April 24, 2009 6:41:46 pm
Accepting the prosecution’s plea,a special court ordered an inquiry to check whether the prime accused in Mumbai terror attack case,Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab,is a juvenile (below 18 years of age).
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam asked for the inquiry,saying that Kasab should get a fair trial and the accused should not get an opportunity to plead later that the trial had been vitiated as he was a juvenile.
In case the inquiry holds that he is a juvenile,he will be referred to a juvenile court for trial under the Juvenile Justice Act which provides for maximum punishment of three years,his lawyer Abbas Kazmi said.
“I am of the opinion that in view of the peculiar nature of the case,the court will have to order an inquiry to determine his age,” Judge M L Tahaliyani observed.
The nature of the inquiry would be two fold direct evidence and scientific tests. The court has allowed the prosecution to examine on April 28 the prime witnesses jailor and doctor of the hospital where Kasab was admitted after his arrest on November 26 last year.
The scientific examination in the inquiry would include Ossification (bone test) and dental tests to determine Kasab’s age. Prosecutor Nikam said that normally a person gets wisdom tooth after attaining the age of 17.
In this case,test would be conducted to see if he had the wisdom tooth.
Prosecution’s case is that Kasab is a major and had told a doctor of Nair hospital where he was admitted for treatment of bullet injuries that he was 21. He had also stated the same age to the jailor who entered it in jail register when he was sent to jail custody earlier.
The court ordered jail authorities to take Kasab for Ossification test and dental examination to determine his age. On a query by reporters,prosecutor Nikam refused to disclose the place where the tests would be done.
The court also did not mention where such tests would be held. The radiologist and the dentist,who will conduct the tests,have been asked to submit a report on or before April 28.
Kasab will be taken for scientific tests under heavy security because there was a threat to his life. The court ordered the inquiry after prosecutor Nikam moved an application urging that the age of the accused may be determined before the charges are framed against him.
He said,”We believe in a fair trial and a message should go around that India was just not a banana country but the one that encouraged complete transparency in the legal system.”
Earlier,Kasab had pleaded that he was juvenile and that the case should be transferred to Juvenile court. The court rejected his plea,saying he did not appear to be a juvenile but if it felt any time during the trial that an inquiry should be held to determine his age,it would do so.
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