Lahore: Buoyed by a Pakistani court’s order that said the trial of Mumbai attacker Ajmal Amir Kasab cannot be separated from that of seven Pakistani suspects,
LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi plans to file a petition in the Supreme Court seeking acquittal.
"We will approach the Supreme Court in a few days following the Lahore High Court’s order and we are quite hopeful that it will change the entire complexion of the case in the anti-terrorism court," Khwaja Sultan, the lawyer for Lakhvi, said.
A petition seeking Lakhvi’s acquittal is likely to be filed in the apex court on Monday, he said. The Lahore High Court, in its order issued on March 09 in response to a petition filed by Lakhvi, said: "Procedure adopted by (the anti-terrorism) court while applying section 540-A (2) Criminal Procedure Code for separation of trial of alleged accused Ajmal Kasab and Faheem Arshad Ansari is totally illegal".
"Resultantly, to that extent order dated 25.11.2009 passed by the trial court is declared without lawful authority and is hereby set aside," the court ruled.
The High Court’s 14-page order also said Lakhvi could file an "application under section 265 K of CrPC (for acquittal) at proper stage after recording of necessary/relevant evidence".
Lakhvi can also raise "any objections about admissibility of any document/evidence at relevant stage of the trial before the trial court", the order said.
The trial of Lakhvi and six other suspects, including Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) communications expert Zarar Shah, is being conducted by the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi. They have been charged with facilitating and helping execute the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed nearly 180 people.
Legal experts said Lakhvi’s move to approach the apex court could be a ploy to delay proceedings in the anti-terrorism court, which have entered a crucial stage as the recording of testimony of witnesses has begun.
The government’s special public prosecutor has already accused defence lawyers of creating "unnecessary hindrances" by filing petitions in different courts.
Lakhvi’s counsel Sultan further said that if a joint trial of Kasab and the Pakistani suspects is conducted, then Kasab’s statement to Indian authorities will "technically" have no value.
"Similarly, Kasab is not wilfully absconding and therefore there are very legal grounds that his name should be dropped from the case," said a confident-looking Sultan.
The Lahore High Court’s order also caused embarrassment for the anti-terrorism court when it observed that "the special judge (of the trial court) committed a `clear error` of law in directing the separation of their cases on the `sole ground` that they (Kasab and Ansari) could not be served (notices). The correct course to adopt for the judge was to enforce the attendance of the respondents...?”
Sultan further contended that Kasab was being tried by a court in Mumbai and allegedly made a judicial confession that was recorded under Section 164 of India’s CrPC before a magistrate in Mumbai.
"There is no evidence on record against (Lakhvi) to connect him with any of the alleged offences that Kasab has committed. Kasab not been shown as an accused in Pakistan and therefore his statement cannot be used against (Lakhvi) as it goes against Article 43 of the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order of 1984," Sultan said.