The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to Fahim Harshad Mohammad Yusuf Ansari and Sabauddin Shaikh, acquitted by a trial court of charges of involvement in the Nov 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attack, even as it termed the Maharashtra government’s case challenging the acquittal “weak”.
The bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.M. Lodha issued the notice on a petition by the Maharashtra government challenging the acquittal of the two by the trial court and the Bombay High Court upholding the judgment.
“Having regard to the seriousness of the case, we are issuing notice but you have a weak case”, the court told counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the Maharashtra government.
Subramanium told the apex court that both Ansari and Shaikh were involved in the crime. Ansari made the map of the area where terror attack was executed and the map was taken from Kathmandu to Pakistan.
He told the court that 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab was told of the involvement of Ansari and Sheikh for providing logistic support by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Zaikur Rehman Lakhvi, thus prompting the court to observe that the case was based on “double hearsay” evidence.
Prosecution’s case was that Ansari had handed over the maps to Sheikh in Nepal to be forwarded to LeT.
When the court was told that map prepared by Ansari was of the size of a notebook paper, the court observed that the ‘panchnama’ of the map says that there were no wrinkles on it.
The high court, Subramanium told the court, faulted the trial court’s acquittal of the two on three points, yet it (high court) said that it would not interfere with the findings of the trial court.
“Handwriting experts have testified that this (map) was in his (Ansari’s) hand writing,”.
Ansari and Shaikh were accused of providing logistic support for the attack. They were acquitted by a trial court and the verdict was later upheld by the Bombay High Court by its order Feb 21. The two were acquitted for want of corroborative evidence.
Meanwhile, the apex court has permitted the Maharashtra government to complete filing of papers in connection with the case of Kasab, awarded the death sentence last year for the 26/11 terror strike.
When Subramanium told the court that Kasab’s letter challenging his death sentence was with the court’s registry, the court said: “We are taking steps regarding this.”
However, the court did not say anything on the plea that Kasab’s matter should be tagged with the Maharashtra government’s plea challenging the acquittal of Ansari and Shaikh.