- By Aneesha Mathur, The Indian Express
Eight years after being awarded the death penalty by a sessions court for his alleged involvement in a 1997 bomb blast which killed four persons in a Delhi Transport Corporation bus, a Pakistani national was on Friday acquitted by another sessions court, which conducted a fresh trial in the case.
Following his conviction in 2004, Mohammad Hussain alias Julfikar Ali had approached the Delhi High Court and then Supreme Court. In August last year, the Supreme Court sent his case back to the sessions court, and ordered a fresh trial.
On the conclusion of the trial — in 24 hearings — Additional Sessions Judge Pawan Kumar Jain acquitted Hussain of all charges owing to “substantial lapses in the investigation”. He also asked police to deport Hussain to Pakistan as soon as possible.
The prosecution had alleged that Hussain had boarded the DTC bus on December 30, 1997 from Paharganj with a bag containing the bomb. He allegedly took a ticket for Nangloi but got down at Karol Bagh, leaving the bomb behind. The explosion took place around 6.20 pm, near the Rampura bus stop in Punjabi Bagh.
The court, however, found discrepancies in the prosecution case.
In fact, the court has now sent a copy of the 68-page judgment to the Police Commissioner, “with a hope and trust that courts will not encounter such type of laspses in the future”.
In its judgment, the court held that the prosecution had not only failed to establish Hussain’s identity, but was also unable to identify the nature of the bomb and the materials used to trigger it.
The court said the ‘disclosure statement’ of the accused as recorded by the police was also contary to scientific evidence presented by CFSL experts. It observed that while the disclosure statement said that the accused had used a detonator and a timer to create a remote-operated time bomb, the CFSL experts “categorically deposed that the bomb in question could not be operated by a remote and even the said bomb could not be operated by a timer”.
The court also observed that the description of the accused had not been established as two key witnesses had given different descriptions. Also, several procedural lapses had also been made by the investigation officers, including in the recording of evidence.
In his defence, Hussain had said that he had travelled with a legitimate visa from Pakistan in September 1997, and had been detained without reason near the Jama Masjid on December 25, 1997.
He also alleged that he was kept by the police at an unknown location for several weeks before being falsely accused.