New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday accepted the National Investigation Agency (NIA) chargesheet against Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley and eight others including Tawahur Hussain Rana, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed, for their alleged roles in various terror acts in the country.
District Judge HS Sharma took cognizance of the chargesheet filed by the NIA against all the nine accused.
"In view of facts contained in the report (chargesheet) under section 173 of the CrPC, 1973 and the documents placed on record, I take cognizance against accused one to accused nine. I would like to add that the prosecution is still in the process of collecting more evidence which is permissible under section 173 (8) of the CrPC,” the judge said.
The NIA in its chargesheet had charged Headley and 8 others for planning and executing terror strikes in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
The court has issued process to procure the presence of four accused, including Headley and his Pakistani-Canadian accomplice Tahawwur Rana for March 13.
Following the development the NIA would now be able to seek extradition of Headley and other accused.
Besides the four, the court has issued non bailable warrants against Pakistan Army officials Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali, Al-Qaeda operative Illyas Kashmiri, Headley`s handler Sajid Malik and former Pakistani Army officer Abdul Rehman Hashmi.
The court also allowed the NIA`s plea to issue a letter of request to the Kingdom of Morocco for judicial assistance.
"What the NIA intends to do is to investigate the matter i.e. to collect more evidence. Without having the assistance of the court or the authority in Kingdom of Morocco, it would not be possible for the investigating agency to collect evidence against the accused.... The investigation can’t be throttled," the court said, adding, the letter of request would be handed over to the NIA on February 29.
The NIA had urged the court to issue a letter rogatory to Morocco to help it further investigate the role of Headley`s second wife, Faiza Outalha, in the 26/11 attacks and ascertain her whereabouts.
The NIA had initially registered a case against Headley and Rana but after a thorough probe, seven other names were included in the case.
The NIA had on December 24 last year filed the voluminous chargesheet against Headley, Rana, Saeed and others.
The chargesheet, which was filed after two years of probe by the central agencies, contained statements of 134 witnesses along with 210 documents and 106 e-mails.
Headley and Rana are at present in the custody of the US authorities and the NIA has only got a limited access to Headley who had entered into plea bargain with US authorities to escape harsh sentence.
The court also said that while taking cognizance on the charge sheet, it has to take only a prima facie view.
"The taking of cognizance means the point in time when the court takes judicial notice of an offence with a view to initiate proceedings in respect of such offence which appears to have been committed.
Both Headley and Rana are at present in the custody of the US authorities and the NIA has only got a limited access to Headley who had entered into plea bargain with US authorities to escape harsh sentence.