On a petition filed by Kamal Chauhan, co-accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express bomb blast case, challenging Panchkula National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court's May 9 order of extending his investigation period from 90 to 180 days in violation of procedures, the Punjab and Haryana high court has issued notice of motion to the NIA for June 7.
Chauhan, who is presently lodged at Ambala central jail, had allegedly planted one of the four bombs in the Lahore-bound Samjhauta Express. As many as 68 passengers were killed following two explosions on February 18, 2007 near Diwana railway station in Panipat.
The other co-accused also locked up at Ambala central jail are Lokesh Sharma and Swami Aseemanand.
The petitioner submitted that his custody of 90 days was to expire on May 11, but on May 9, the NIA moved an application for extension of period of investigation from 90 to 180 days. The application was allowed by Panchkula NIA special court without issuing any notice to the petitioner, it was submitted.
The petitioner mentioned that no progress report was produced before the NIA court by the investigation agency and thus, the court had acted in a mechanical manner in passing the order, which was liable to be set aside. It was submitted that as per the terms for extension of judicial custody, a report of the public prosecutor must indicate the progress of investigation and specific reasons for detention of the accused beyond 90 days, which was not done in the case.
It was submitted that the NIA court passed the orders without giving the petitioner a formal opportunity to exercise his right to be released on bail, which cannot be taken away by passing an order in a mechanical and perfunctory manner.
He added that even the NIA court had erred gravely by not taking into consideration the fact that the investigating agency had not produced its daily dairy to justify further detention of the petitioner and under no circumstances, custody of the petitioner could be extended without the petitioner being produced before the court.