Pak judicial commission`s visit to India remains uncertain

Last Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 - 10:21

New Delhi: The visit of a Pakistani judicial commission to India for the second time to cross examine four witnesses in the 26/11 attacks case continues to remain uncertain with Islamabad`s failure to fix dates for the tour.

Though Islamabad has not given any reason for the delay in the commission`s visit, sources said hanging of LeT terrorist Ajmal Kasab and recent border skirmishes along the LoC, where an Indian solider was beheaded, might be the causes.

"We have conveyed to Pakistan long ago about our willingness to host the Pakistani judicial panel. But so far there is no information from them when the panel will come," a senior Home Ministry official said.

The agreement on the visit of the second Pakistani judicial commission to Mumbai was finalised on December 25, 2012 in Islamabad following several rounds of discussions on complex technical and legal issues between a four-member visiting Indian delegation and Pakistani officials.

The Home Ministry also got approval of the Bombay High Court for the visit of the Pakistani panel and cross examination of the four witnesses of the Mumbai attack case.

The witnesses are metropolitan magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant-Waghule, who recorded the confessional statement of Kasab, chief investigating officer Ramesh Mahale and two doctors from the state-run Nair and J J Hospitals who had conducted autopsies of nine terrorists.

The cross examination of the four witnesses is required to take the ongoing 26/11 case in a Rawalpindi court to its logical conclusion.

Seven terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, were charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008.

During its visit, the Indian team had secured assurance from Pakistani authorities that the findings of the second judicial commission would not be summarily rejected by the anti-terrorism court that is conducting the trial of seven men.

The findings of the first Pakistani judicial commission that visited India in March 2012 were rejected by an anti- terrorism court in Pakistan as the panel`s members were not allowed to cross-examine the Indian witnesses.

After the judicial panel visits India and cross examines the four witnesses, Islamabad is expected to reciprocate by granting an Indian judicial commission access to Pakistani suspects when it visits the country at a later stage.

The trial of the Pakistani suspects has made little or no headway for months due to various technical and legal issues.

The Lahore High Court has barred the anti-terrorism court from using Kasab`s confession while defence lawyers have contended that existing Pakistani laws do not allow witnesses in another country to depose via video-conferencing.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013 - 10:21

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