Court acquits two in 1996 Delhi blast
Slamming the lax probe, the Delhi High Court Thursday acquitted two convicts given death penalty in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar Market bomb blasts here which killed 13 people. Another convict's death sentence was reduced to life term.
A division bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice G.P. Mittal pulled up Delhi Police and said they showed a "casual approach in the case" and failed to maintain the "minimum standard of proof".
The court acquitted Mohd. Ali Bhatt and Mirza Nissar Hussain, who were given death penalty by the trial court in 2010.
The judges also converted the death penalty given to the third convict, Mohd. Naushad, into life imprisonment.
The court upheld the life sentence of fourth convict, Javed Ahmed Khan, who had been held guilty of serious offences of murder, conspiracy and attempt to murder.
The judgment, running into more than 200 pages, said: "Police have not maintained minimum standard of probe in the case, test identification parade (TIP) was not conducted, statements of vital witnesses were not recorded. There was also absence of (police) daily diary entry in the case."
The order came on the appeals of the four convicts, of whom three were on death row. Police said all suspects were members of the militant outfit Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front.
The trial court, in its verdict, termed the crime as a "dastardly act" that fell under the "rarest of rare" category and awarded death penalty to the three convicts.
According to the prosecution, the accused were arrested soon after the blasts after police tracked the phone calls they made to various media houses to claim responsibility for the terror attack.