New Delhi: Fourteen years after 13 people were killed and 39 injured in a bomb blast in Lajpat Nagar market, a city court Thursday convicted six accused including a woman, and acquitted four due to lack of evidence. All the accused are from Jammu and Kashmir.
The verdict was pronounced by District and Sessions Judge S.P. Garg. The arguments on the quantum of sentence will take place April 13.
Garg held Mirza Nissar Hussain alias Naza, Mohammad Naushad, Mohammad Ali Bhatt alias Killey and Javed Ahmed Khan guilty for murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy and mischief. The four face a maximum punishment of death penalty.
The two other convicts were held guilty under the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act. Farooq Ahmed Khan was convicted under section 25 of the Arms Act and Section 5 of the Explosive Substances Act. The lone woman accused, Farida Dar, was convicted under Section 5 of the Explosive Substances Act. Both face a maximum punishment of seven years.
Acquitting four of the accused, Garg called the police investigation defective. "Due to lack of evidence, accused Mirza Ifteqhar Hussain alias Saba, Latif Ahmed Waza, Syed Maqbool Shah and Abdul Gani alias Nikka are aquitted." The acquitted were in jail since the last 14 years.
Citing more reasons for their acquittal, Garg said that at no stage had the police opted to put any of them for test identification parade (TIP), and even the prosecution had failed to justify it.
"The evidence collected by the police was also incomplete, thus the accused are acquitted," said Garg in his judgment report.
According to the counsel of the accused, Khalid Ansari, the acquitted will be released Thursday night or Friday morning. "Since two of the acquitted are in Loni jail and two in Tihar, completing the formalities may take some time," he added.
He added that their families will hopefully be in Delhi in the next couple of days.
The 10 accused were arrested from different parts of the country. Farooq and Farida were arrested from Kashmir, Naushad, Ifteqhar and Maqbool Shah from Delhi, Mirza Nissar from Mussourie, Javed and Abdul Gani from Ahmedabad, and Mohammad Ali Bhatt and Latif from Gorakhpur during May-June 1996.
The blast took place on the evening of May 2, 1996, in the busy Central Market of Lajpat Nagar locality in south Delhi.
Court slams DP`s probe shortcomings
The Delhi Police`s probe into
the Lajpat Nagar blast case today came in for sharp criticism
by a court here which lashed out at the investgating officer
for his lapses, including non-cooperation with the public
prosecutor, during the 14 years of trial.
The ire of the court was against Assistant
Commissioner of Police P P P Singh who, as the incharge of the
investigation, did not make himself available for recording
"Singh is stated to be overall incharge of the
investigation. However, he did not bother to appear as a
witness before this court," District and Sessions Judge S P
Garg said in his judgement while convicting six of the 10
suspected Jammu and Kashmir Islamic front militants.
The judge noted that Special Public Prosecutor S K Das
had on several occasssion complained about the non-cooperation
of the investigating officer who also did not make any effort
to conduct test identification of the accused and apprehend
the absconding suspects.
"The prosecutor always complained about
non-cooperation from the investigating officer in this case.
He expressed his inability to address arguments in detail due
to IO`s non-cooperation. No efforts were made during the more
than 14 years to apprehend the co-accused who were declared
proclaimed offender," the court said.
Pointing out other lacunae in the probe, the court
said the police did not deem it fit to record statements of
material witnesses who later turned hostile.
The police should have recorded their statements under
section 164 of the CrPC, which would have a binding effect in