India will seek direct access to Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley under a bilateral agreement signed in 2005 and a communication is being sent to the US to allow its investigators to question him.
The draft letter was being examined by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram after it was prepared by Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam and officials of National Investigation Agency (NIA), official sources said here.
The NIA has registered a case against Headley and his Pakistani-Canadian accomplice Tahawwur Rana for allegedly conspiring to wage a war against the country and under other sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The letter would be sent to the US through diplomatic channels for seeking direct access to Headley as he is wanted in India for conspiring with terror outfit Lashker-e-Taiba in carrying out attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 that left over 160 people dead, they said. Headley had pleaded gulity to the charges in a US court at Chicago.
India had signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the US initial in 2001 which was further revised in 2005.
The new provisions enhance the ability of the two countries to pursue their common objective of law enforcement by putting in place a legal mechanism to enable them to provide to each other assistance in connection with the investigation, prosecution, prevention and suppression of crime including those relating to terrorism, narcotics, trafficking, economic and organised crime.
The assistance under the Treaty shall include taking the testimony or statements of persons, providing documents, records and items of evidence, locating or identifying persons or items; serving documents, transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes, executing requests for searches and seizures, assistance in proceedings related to seizure and forfeiture of asset, restitution, collection of fines.
The issue of access to Headley will be also raised by India at official level during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s four-day visit to the United States.
According to American law, the US Department of Justice will have to take permission from the Chicago court, which is hearing Headley’s case, about India’s request for direct access to him.
Headley, who was arrested by FBI in October, had pleaded guilty to all terror charges before a US court on March 18.
49-year-old Headley, who faces six counts of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons in India and providing material support to foreign terrorist plots and LeT; and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India, could have been sentenced to death if convicted.
After pleading guilty, he will now get a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.