PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, RAJASTHAN
Jaipur, 29th March, 2023
PUCL demands action against the police team which fabricated cases against innocents and conducted slipshod investigation in the 2008 Jaipur bomb blasts, which killed 74 people.
Fresh investigation should be ordered to ensure justice to the kin of the 74 killed and 150 injured
Compensation must be given to the five acquitted for the loss of 15 years of their lives, which they spent in jail as their families suffered the ignominy of association with “terrorists”.
The PUCL welcomes the judgment of Justice Pankaj Bhandari and Sameer Jain of the Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur bench, in the Jaipur bomb blast cases. On May 13, 2008, nine synchronous blasts occurred in the state capital in a span of 15 minutes. The judgment delivered today, 29th March, 2023, dealt with 28 cases including four death sentences earlier ordered by a trial court that convicted these men. The High Court acquitted all accused and rejected the death penalty and other punishments given by the special court (bomb blast) to the four: Saifur Rehman, Mohammed Saif, Mohammed Salman and Mohammed Sarwar. The court also rejected the prosecution’s appeal of enhancement of sentence against the four for some of the cases, along with dismissing the appeal of the prosecution against the acquittal of Shahbaz Ahmed by the special court (bomb blast), upholding the special court’s judgment.
The court has rightly identified the numerous flaws in the investigation. The decision of the trial court, based on the chain of circumstances presented by the prosecution, nowhere showed the corresponding evidence, the court said. The judgment talks of gaping holes in the investigation, reiterating the point of slipshod work by the police. In 2008 itself, many civil society organisations raised the issue of false arrests and framing of young men of the Muslim community as terrorists. They also consisted a national tribunal on framing innocents in the Jaipur bomb blasts.
Expressing outrage and calling it shoddy and incomplete, the Rajasthan High Court Jaipur bench came down harshly on the Rajasthan police team responsible for the investigation and ordered the DGP to hold an enquiry and identify the police personnel responsible, adding that the guilty police personnel must face punishment. Taking exception to the prosecution’s case, it also added that the heinous crimes which killed over 74 people should have been properly investigated and impeccable evidence provided so that the guilty were punished. Instead, either the wrong culprits were arrested or if they were indeed culprits, arrests were done sans evidence. Excerpts of the judgement read by the court showed extensive lapses.
The PUCL is particularly grateful to the team of lawyers of the five (four convicted and one acquitted), who showed the court the lapses in investigation to substantiate how it was bad in law to accept the conclusions of the investigation. PUCL records its appreciation of the work of senior counsels, Nitya Ramakrishnan, Tridip Pais, and advocates, Mr. Ashok Agarwal Siri Singh, Harsh Bohra, Rajat, Vibhor Jain Mujahid Ahmad, Nishant Vyas, SS Ali and others.
The PUCL demands.
• immediate action against the police who fabricated cases against the five, who spent 15 years in jail due to a delayed trial and a bad judgement of the trial court.
• Just compensation from the Government of Rajasthan for the false case, which caused these innocent young men to lose 15 years of life. Their families suffered the stigma of having produced “terrorists”. In 2008 when the four were arrested, except for Shahbaz, all were under twenty-five. Salman had not yet turned 18. The High Court today upheld Salman’s juvenility and calling It erroneous, rejected the order of the additional district judge who set aside the JJ Board order confirming Salman’s age as being under 18 years. For a maximum punishment of 3 years for being a juvenile on conviction, Salman spent 15 years behind bars. It is imperative that all be compensated.
• Fresh investigation in the 2008 bomb blast cases so that justice is delivered to the kin of the 74 deceased and the more than 150 injured that ill fateful day.
The PUCL also appeals to the State of Rajasthan to not move for a stay against the acquittal, and instead facilitate the release of the four from jail. Shahbaz was released almost two years ago.
PUCL will offer a more detailed analysis of the judgement once it is uploaded on the Rajasthan High court website.
Kavita Srivastava Anant Bhatnagar
(President) (General Secretary)