New Delhi: The Supreme Court has set aside the acquittal of a Pakistan national, a Hizbul Mujahideen operative who was involved in the serial blasts at Maulana Azad Memorial Stadium in Jammu during Republic Day function in 1995 that had claimed eight lives.
A bench of Justices AK Sikri and UU Lalit, while relying on the confessional statement of Ghulam Nabi given before CBI, said, "the confession of an accused is a substantive piece of evidence and his conviction can be founded on such confession itself."
The court asked Nabi, who has been convicted under the now repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), to appear before it for advancing arguments on quantum of sentence in the case.
Three bomb explosions had taken place in the Maulana Azad Memorial Stadium in Jammu aimed to kill then Governor Lt General K V Krishna Rao during his address to a huge gathering of about 40,000 people, including dignitaries, VIPs, senior government officers, political leaders and citizens on Republic Day in 1995. Rao had a narrow escape.
The apex court, however, upheld the acquittal of another accused Wasim Ahmed, a Kashmiri, saying nothing was placed on record to establish his role in the conspiracy and execution thereof.
The judgement came on the appeal by Jammu and Kashmir government against a trial court decision acquitting both the accused of the charges under provisions of the TADA Act, the Ranbir Penal Code and the Explosives Substances Act.
The trial court in J&K had in 2009 absolved the accused of the offences while rejecting evidence regarding confessional statement of Ghulam Nabi on the ground that since he was a Pakistani, his language must be Urdu and his statement was recorded in Hindi which is not his language.
The apex court said the conclusion drawn by the trial court "that Ghulam Nabi being Pakistani national his language must be Urdu and the recording of the confession in a language other than Urdu, must be held to be not in conformity, is wrong.
"Nothing has been placed on record that the confessing accused did not understand the line of questioning or that he was not made to understand the contents of the confession after recording was complete.
"In our view the assessment made by the trial court in this behalf is completely incorrect and against the record," the bench said.
The powerful blasts, which had occured in the stadium, including one near the dias and another on the road outside, had killed eight persons and caused grievous injuries to eighteen others.