Pakistan's Supreme Court has issued notice to the federal government to respond by April 21 to a petition filed by Lashker-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi seeking his acquittal in the Mumbai attacks case.
In his petition filed on April 7, Lakhvi sought his acquittal on the ground that the prosecution had no evidence linking him to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks barring the "retracted" confession of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone attacker arrested by Indian authorities.
Lakhvi also asked the apex court to restrain an anti-terrorism court and the prosecution from using Kasab's confessional statement as evidence against him.
The petition will be heard by the Rawalpindi bench of the apex court on April 21.
The LeT commander's counsel Khwaja Sultan contended that the prosecution had not levelled any allegation about Lakhvi's "connection or interaction" with any of the six co-accused and others persons allegedly involved in the Mumbai carnage.
"The investigation of the case is based on the alleged confession of Kasab, who is in Indian custody. Neither has any witness supported Kasab's statement nor has Lakhvi been accused of providing training to the terrorists involved in the attacks," Sultan said.
"The prosecution, in their chargesheets, maintained that (Lakhvi) was a commander of the LeT but could not establish his link with the accused in the Mumbai attacks. Under article 43 of Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order (Pakistan's law of testimony), the confessional statement of an accused can be used against his co-accused only if they are being tried jointly," Sultan added.
He further pointed out that Kasab's name was never mentioned in the chargesheets submitted against Lakhvi.
"Therefore, the statement of Kasab cannot be used against Lakhvi," Sultan contended.
Meanwhile, the prosecution has filed a separate petition in the Lahore High Court challenging the anti-terrorism court's decision not to declare Kasab and Fahim Ansari, another suspect arrested by Indian authorities, as "proclaimed offenders" or fugitives.
This petition is yet to be taken up by the High Court.
Lakhvi and six other suspects – Zarar Shah, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Abu al-Qama, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum – are being tried by a Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court for allegedly planning and facilitating that Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.