Three National Security Guards (NSG) commandos will depose in the 26/11 terror attacks trial but not in person.
This is the first time since the force was raised 25 years ago that its members will be deposing in a trial.
Additional solicitor general Darius Khambata suggested that the commandos be allowed to depose before the special court through video conferencing and their identities be kept confidential. “Evidence of commandos should be confidential and their names, ranks, identification, photographs and addresses should not be disclosed,” said Khambata on Thursday.
The central government also sought that the deposition be in-camera. This means only the judge, lawyers and accused will be
allowed to remain present when the NSG commandos’ evidence is recorded. The media cannot report these proceedings.
The central government, which was initially reluctant to allow members of the elite force to depose, agreed to do so but set a four-point guideline for it.
The guidelines submitted by Khambata suggested that the trial court be directed to confine the questioning of the commandos to specific operations they had taken part in. “No question is allowed (including in cross examination) that pertains [to] or relates to the methods, techniques, weapons/equipment, operations, communications, manner of combating terrorists and training of the NSG,” the guidelines suggested.
The first commando will depose on November 9. The special court will need to take permission from the high court if any other commando needs to be called to depose.
The division bench of Justice J.N. Patel and Justice Amjad Sayed said that it would pass the order regarding the commandos’ deposition on Friday. “We do not mean to harass the commandos. Do not have the image that after this, commandos would be called to depose in every case,” Justice Patel said.
Khambata too clarified that it was not that the commandos did not want to depose but they just wanted to ensure the confidentiality of their testimony. “They [commandos] are willing [to depose] as citizens of India. But they are elite
force and are called only under special circumstances,” said Khambata.