Former ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi on Wednesday welcomed the court verdict in the 2006 Mumbai train blasts even as the defence counsel said they will appeal in the high court.
“I congratulate all my 15 officers, who had probed the case. The verdict is a vindication of our efforts. I am happy that the court has appreciated the evidence and given an appropriate quantum of punishment in the case,” he told PTI.
Five persons were sentenced to death and seven others imprisoned for life by a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court for the serial blasts that left 188 commuters dead and over 800 injured.
Soon after the quantum of sentence was pronounced, Raghuvanshi arrived at the sessions court in Mumbai and said, “I am satisfied with the quantum announced by the court. I would have been more happy had all the convicted been awarded death sentence.”
Defence lawyer Sharif Sheikh said his clients were innocent and that he would now challenge the verdict of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in the Bombay high court.
“The court has convicted all the accused. They are innocent. The court has somewhere committed a mistake and not made efforts to find the truth,” Sharif said.
Leading lawyers hailed the decision of the court.
“I welcome the verdict because in this case the evidence was circumstantial and the prosecution was able to successfully prove the guilt of the accused,” said Ujjwal Nikam, a leading public prosecutor who has appeared on behalf the state in many terror-related cases.
Nikam said the court had accepted that there was a criminal conspiracy to create the serial blasts during peak hours and that in a criminal conspiracy all the conspirators have an equal role to play.
Leading defence lawyer Majeed Memon said the verdict was expected to be “harsh” because a serious offence had been committed against the society.
The case had seen a twist when the defence lawyer sought to call Indian Mujahideen co-founder Sadiq Sheikh as defence witness after he told the police in 2008 that IM members were responsible for all the blasts that happened since 2005 including the train blasts.
The court had allowed examination of Sadiq as a defence witness but he later claimed that he gave his confession under duress.
Raghuvanshi said the judgment proved that the police were on the right track
“All the claims of people who had accused us of arresting the wrong people have been proved false. With this verdict, police’s credibility has increased,” the former ATS chief said.