The trials in the 7/11 train blasts, the 2006 Malegaon blast and the Aurangabad arms haul cases may finally begin after a gap of two years with the Supreme Court (SC) vacating the stay on them on Friday.
Of these cases, only the train blasts trial had begun, with the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) examining a single witness. The other two hadn’t begun when the stay was ordered.
In February 2008, the Supreme Court stayed the trials after a special leave petition was filed by three accused — Zamir Sheikh (32), Shabir Masiullah (36) and Mohammed Tanveer (24) — challenging the constitutional validity of a section of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) that deals with insurgency. The accused said the state government did not have the legislative competence to enact it.
The trio had approached the Bombay High Court in June 2007 challenging the applicability of MCOCA, but a division bench rejected their petition. A month later, they approached the SC.
On February 29, 2008, the SC admitted the appeal and stayed the trials. The SC sought clarifications from the prosecution and the defence in October 2009 on the impact of the amended Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Act (UAPA) and the new National Investigation Agency Act on the cases.
While the stay was in force, the Malegaon accused moved the special MCOCA Court and the Bombay High Court seeking action against the investigating officers.
Meanwhile, Abrar Sayyed (33), the sole approver, turned hostile in April 2009. He filed an affidavit in the special court, claiming ATS officers had induced him into “confessing” to a crime he never committed.
In the 14-page affidavit filed through his brother and lawyer Jaleel Ahmed, Abrar detailed how the officers “forcibly” took his confession. They even took him to Ujjain to meet some sadhus, the affidavit said.
His affidavit claimed that Dayanand Pandey, whom he met at JJ Hospital during a routine check-up, was the same Kashmiri sadhu he met at Bholenath temple in Ujjain. Through newspaper photographs, he also identified Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon case, as one of the women he met in Ujjain.
Based on Abrar’s affidavit, three accused in the Malegaon case — Noorulhudha Samsudoha, Shabbir Masiullah and Mohammed Ansari — approached the Bombay High Court asking that a special team probe Abrar’s statement.
Their advocate Amin Solkar argued that, according to Abrar’s affidavit, the 2006 and September 29, 2008, blasts in Malegaon were carried out by those arrested for the 2008 blast — Pandey and Thakur, among others. This petition was dismissed early this month.