Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddiqui, an accused in the 11/7 train blasts case, has asked for all proceedings connected to the blasts to be quashed, claiming the agency investigating the case was not authorised to do this at the time of their arrest.
Siddiqui has approached the Bombay High Court and challenged the authority of the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) to investigate the case. His hand written petition says the ATS has conducted the investigation “without the authority of law and should be set aside as it is illegal.”
A division bench of Justice J.N. Patel and Justice Amjad Sayed has asked Additional Public Prosecutor Usha Kejariwal to file a reply within two weeks. It also ordered a lawyer from the legal aid panel be appointed for Siddiqui.
On November 17, 2004, the government, through a notification, gave the ATS headquarters the status of a police station. That notification was amended on August 31, 2006, to empower the ATS to detain people under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, MCOCA and other related Acts.
Siddiqui and four others were arrested by the ATS on July 29, 2006, roughly a month before the notification was amended. Siddiqui’s petition says this means they were arrested when the ATS had no legal authority to file an FIR, detain him for violating UAPA and investigate the matter.
Since he was arrested and detained under UAPA, Siddiqui has asked the court to quash and set aside the FIR and all further proceedings related to the 11/7 bombings.
Siddiqui cited an apex court judgment — against former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal — in which criminal proceedings were quashed because the matter was investigated by a local police station under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, and only the Anti Corruption Bureau is authorised to probe matters under the PC Act. An earlier such petition filed by Siddiqui was rejected by the HC on August 14, 2008.