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The Gujarat government Friday dismissed as ‘allegations’ the claims of two men convicted under the Prevention Of Terrorism Act (POTA) for attacking a prominent lawyer in Surat city in May 2002, that their confessional statements had been made under duress and police had made them sign blank papers.

Mohammed Ashraf Ismail Nagori and Mohammed Tahir Mohammed Arif Bakaswala had appealed to the Gujarat High Court against their conviction and seven year jail sentence by a designated POTA court for conspiring and attacking Hasmukh Lalwala on May 21, 2002. The two are accused in numerous cases including the murder of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya.

However, dismissing their allegations, public prosecutor J.M. Panchal argued before a division bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice Z.K. Saiyed that the duo’s allegations that they were coerced to sign blank papers and the police had recorded their statements later, were false and baseless.

‘They were taken into the police custody June 22, 2003 and an officer of the rank of a district superintendent of police had recorded their confessional statements. Within due time, the accused were produced before a magisterial court. The magistrate also had recorded the accused’s statements in connection with the confessional statement given by them to the police. The accused had agreed before the magistrate that they wilfully gave confessional statements before the police,’ he argued.

Panchal contended that the present appeal of the petitioners was not based on facts but were mere allegations.

‘It seems that the accused have made the judicial officer a party and are alleging that the judicial officer and police have made a wrong case against them. This is height of allegations where they are challenging a judicial officer who ought to be unbiased,’ he said.

Panchal also argued on how the confessional statements were relevant and crucial part of the evidence as per the act and that the conviction recorded by the designated POTA court was right.

The court will now hear the case on April 28-29 when the prosecution and the defense lawyers are likely to finish their arguments. Justice Patel said after the arguments are over, the court wishes to deliver its judgment in the first week of May due to long pendency of the case

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