India bars Pakistan`s panel from meeting Kasab

A Mumbai metropolitan magistrate`s court dismissed a plea by a Pak judicial commission to cross-examine witnesses in 26/11 case.

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: An Indian official says a court has barred a Pakistani delegation from interviewing the man convicted of the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

The delegation came to India to gather evidence for use in the prosecution of seven militants on trial in Pakistan over the attack that killed 166 people.

A court official said an Indian judge told the delegation on Friday it would not be allowed to talk to lone surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab.

The court official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to discuss the closed hearing.

Statements recorded

A Mumbai metropolitan magistrate`s court yesterday dismissed a plea by a Pakistani judicial commission to cross-examine four witnesses in the 26/11 case.

The in-camera proceedings at the Esplanade Court saw a dispute arise over the mandate of the panel which insisted on cross-examination of the witnesses, including the magistrate who had recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab. Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who had led the trial against Kasab, and was assisting the witnesses, objected to the Commission`s plea and there was a "hot exchange of words" between him and the panel members, a source close to the proceedings said.

When the head of the visiting Commission and Pakistan`s Special Public Prosecutor Zulfiqar Ali contended that cross-examination was legally permitted, Nikam asked him to inform the court about the arrangement mutually agreed upon by the two countries. As Ali continued to insist on cross-examination, Nikam said Indian CrPC provided for adherence to what had been agreed upon by the two countries while making such an arrangement.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate SS Shinde finally disallowed the Commission from cross-examining the witnesses, accepting Nikam`s plea that both the countries had mutually agreed in October 2010 that only their statements would be recorded. Moreover, Nikam argued that since the appeal of Kasab against his conviction and death penalty was pending in the Supreme Court, legal proceedings in India would be hampered if witnesses were allowed to be cross-examined at this stage.

Following permission from CMM Shinde, the panel began recording the statement of magistrate RV Sawant Waghule, who had recorded the confession of Kasab soon after his arrest following the attacks. It took over an hour to record the statement of Waghule, sources said.

The panel will record statements of 26/11 investigation officer Ramesh Mahale and doctors who performed autopsy on the slain terrorists - medical officer (forensic) of JJ Hospital Ganesh Nitukar and Shailesh Mohit of Nair Hospital.

(With PTI inputs)

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