With the German Bakery blast case coming up in the Bombay High Court on Monday,the defence lawyer submitted preliminary objections regarding investigation by the state Anti Terrorism squad (ATS) and demanded that a fresh probe be ordered.
The ATS has so far arrested only one person Mirza Himayat Inayat Baig,then 29 years old,and hailing from Beed in the case.
A special court in Pune handed out death penalty to him in April 2013.
The court convicted Baig under Sections 302 (murder),307 (attempt to murder),120B (criminal conspiracy) 435 (mischief with an intent to cause damage),435 and 474 (possessing forged documents) of the Indian Penal Code. He was also convicted under Sections 3 (causing an explosion to endanger life) and 4 (making an explosive to endanger life) and 5 (making or possessing explosives under suspicious circumstances) of the Explosive Substances Act. He has also been convicted under various Sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA),1967. Baig had moved HC against the death sentence.
His lawyer,Mehmood Pracha,on Monday raised objections about the investigation and court trial. He argued that as per Section 6 (2) (d) and 43-D (2) (b) of UAPA and Section 22 of NIA Act,a magistrate court does not have powers to remand an accused booked under the UAPA. Trial for such accused can only be conducted in special courts. But Baig was produced before a magistrate court in Pune after his arrest, he said.
As per Section 6 of NIA Act,a state government cannot book any person under the UAPA. The Central government is the only authority that can do so. So,the UAPA was wrongly invoked in this case, he said.
Division Bench of Justices V K Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar asked the defence lawyer that as per Section 6 of NIA Act why these objections were not raised before the trial court. The lawyer pleaded that objections be considered to give justice. The court then asked him to submit preliminary objections with the appeal against Baig’s death sentence on August 8. The court said it would first hear the appeal by the defence lawyer and then by the ATS about confirmation of death sentence.
A high-intensity blast at German Bakery around 7 pm on February 13,2010,claimed 17 lives and injured 56 people. ATS arrested Baig in September 2010 after which he was produced before judicial magistrate (first class) S S Bose. He was later tried before special court of additional sessions judge N P Dhote,who held Baig guilty on April 15 this year.
ATS has named five more accused,including top operatives of Indian Mujahideen (IM) Iqbal Bhatkal,Riyaz Bhatkal and Mohsin Chaudhari and LeT operatives Fayyaz Kagzi and Zabiuddin Ansari. While Zabiuddin alias Zabi,also accused in 26/11 Mumbai attack,was repatriated from Dubai last year,all others are absconding.
HC to decide on NIA plea on CCTV footage later
The Bombay High Court on Monday said it would consider,only at a later stage,an application filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking a direction to the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) to provide CCTV footage collected after Punes German Bakery blast in 2010. The court has refused to direct the ATS to part with the footage at this stage of the proceedings.
The court said it would take a decision on the NIAs application during the confirmation proceedings of the death sentence handed out to Mirza Himayat Inayat Baig,the sole convict in the case.
Justices V K Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar will begin the hearing of the confirmation proceedings and Baigs appeal against conviction on August 8.
The NIA had urged the court to direct the ATS to provide the CCTV footage of the blast that ripped through the popular eatery in Koregaon Park on February 13,2010. Seventeen people,including five foreign nationals,were killed in the explosion.
The NIA,which took over the case from the ATS in April 2011,had first sought a similar direction from the trial court that turned down its application.
In April,a special court in Pune handed out death penalty to Baig observing that it was a rarest of rare offence.