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26/11 prosecutor may be in a fix

india Updated: Apr 27, 2009 01:29 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari

A Supreme Court order is likely to put special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam in a strange situation.

On April 16, the Supreme Court upheld Nikam’s appointment as special prosecutor in a double murder case which is being tried in Sangli district. In fact, the court reversed an order of the Bombay High Court by doing so.

The Supreme Court also directed the Sangli sessions court to complete the trial by October.

Nikam would be busy handling the 26/11 terror attack case at that time.

A special court has been set up for the speedy trial of the sole surviving Pakistani gunman Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and two Indians Fahim Ansari and Sabbauddin Ahmed in the terror case. However, going by the enormity of the case, it is assumed that the trial would continue for at least a year even if the court conducts its business every day.

When Hindustan Times asked Nikam about the options he had following the Supreme Court’s direction, he refused to comment.

The Sangli case is related to the killing of two brothers, Dilip and Vikram Patil, on July 21, 2006 in Islampur. The state government had appointed Nikam as special prosecutor for the case in December 2007 on a plea of the bereaved family.

Relatives of one of the accused had moved the high court against the plea. In June last year, the high court set aside Nikam's appointment on the ground that it was “not in public interest”.

The state government moved the Supreme Court against the high court order.

“Appointment of a special public prosecutor to conduct a proceeding does not, in any way, cause prejudice to the accused,” ruled the Supreme Court while upholding Nikam's appointment.

The Supreme Court directed the speedy completion of the double murder case since the trial had been held up for quite some time because of the litigation over the prosecutor’s appointment.