Unverifiable witness, probe lapses: Why Aseemanand was acquitted in Ajmer blast case
A Jaipur court let off Aseemanand and six others allegedly involved in the blast at the famous shrine of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer.Updated: Apr 18, 2017, 07:35 IST
Procedural lapses and dependence on an unverifiable witness by the prosecution led the court trying the 2007 Ajmer blast case to dismiss the judicial confession of Swami Aseemanand, paving the way for his acquittal, court documents accessed by HT show.
Last month, a Jaipur court let off Aseemanand and six others allegedly involved in the blast at the famous shrine of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer. Three of the accused were convicted for the blast that killed three persons on October 11, 2007. Aseemanand is also an accused in the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blast cases, all three coming within months of each other and dubbed as acts of Hindu terror.
Aseemanand’s confessional statement made in December 2010 was the most credible evidence against him as it was recorded by a judicial magistrate, giving it legal sanctity. He, however, retracted the statement later. The Ajmer case was initially probed by Rajasthan police but was handed over to the NIA in 2011. Aseemanand was arrested on November 18, 2010 by the CBI, which was probing the Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad that killed 14 people in May 2007. The case was later handed over to the NIA. Since the Ajmer case was registered in Hyderabad, a city court dealt with Aseemanand’s custodial hearings since his arrest. But his confession was recorded by a magistrate in Delhi and not in Hyderabad, which went against the prosecution.
The CBI investigating officer (IO) T Rajabalaji told the court that since the accused had information about a Delhi connection into the Mecca Masjid blast probe, he was brought to the national capital. It was here that Aseemanand allegedly expressed his desire to repent and confess, the court documents said quoting the IO. Since the confessional statement of Aseemanand was connected with the probe into the Ajmer case also, the prosecution relied upon it during the trial.
However, special NIA judge Dinesh Gupta said in his judgment that the magistrate should have recorded reasons given by the IO to bring Aseemanand to Delhi and also why he was confessing in the national capital.
The court said that on December 15, Aseemanand was in Mumbai with the IO and he could have been taken to Hyderabad from there. Aseemanand was produced before a magistrate in Delhi on December 16.
The court also pointed that an application made on behalf of Aseemanand seeking to confess did not have his signature. It was instead signed by the IO and public prosecutor. “Therefore, these facts raise doubts whether Aseemanand was repentant,” said the judge. The Delhi magistrate, during his deposition before the court as a witness, said Aseemanand had given one application to the IO on his desire to confess but the court said it was not produced as evidence.
The court also held it against the prosecution that during the confession proceedings, Aseemanand was not provided any lawyer. The prosecution’s reliance on a Sheikh Abdul Kaleem, as a witness in the case, too failed to impress the judge. The prosecution said that Aseemanand had met Kaleem, an accused in the Mecca Masjid case, at the Chanchalguda jail in Hyderabad.
In his “confession”, Aseemanand said since Kaleem took great care of him, he wanted to repent. But during the trial, it came to light that Kaleem was not held in the Mecca Masjid case. “Even if one document was produced (in connection with his arrest in Mecca Masjid case)...it would have been easily proved that Kaleem was arrested and remained in Chanchalguda jail,” said the judge.
In his deposition, Kaleem said he and Aseemanand were lodged in different cells and that Aseemanad was taken out only for 10 minutes . Kaleem also said when Aseemanand was taken out, other prisoners were sent back . “The evidence produced for confirming the fact that Aseemanand and Kaleem had meetings in jail is not credible,” said the court