Allowing a petition filed by 2007 Samjhauta Express bomb blast case accused Kamal Chauhan, the Punjab and Haryana high court has set aside Panchkula's National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court's May 9 orders to extend his judicial custody from 90 to 180 days.
The directions from a division bench headed by justice SK Mittal came with a rider to the special NIA court: Give a hearing to Chauhan within 10 days and pass appropriate orders.
Appearing for the NIA, advocate Sukhdeep Singh Sandhu pointed out that the high court order would amount to Chauhan's release, which would hamper investigations in the case that were at advanced stage.
On this, the bench said that Chauhan's extended custody till the NIA court's orders would be considered to be given on high court directions.
The bench also observed that it was an important case which would require fair and detailed investigation.
Chauhan had submitted that his custody of 90 days was to expire on May 11 but the NIA, in order to defeat his right to be released on bail, moved an application on May 9 for extension of period of investigation from 90 days to 180 which was allowed by the NIA special court without issuing any notice to the petitioner. The NIA had countered his allegation, stating that the trial court had passed the orders as per the law after following due procedure.
Chauhan was arrested at the NIA camp office, Noida (UP) on February 12 and he is behind bars in Ambala central jail. He had allegedly planted one of the four bombs in Samjhauta Express train bound for Lahore. Due to two explosions, 68 passengers had died on February 18, 2007 near Diwana railway station, Panipat.
Two other co-accused in the case lodged in Ambala central jail are Lokesh Sharma and Swami Aseemanand.
The matter would now come up for hearing on July 13.