Geelani aide moves high court for dropping of charges

Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, suspected aide of Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Monday moved Delhi High Court against the trial court order of framing charges against him for his alleged involvement in money laundering to fund terror.

Bhat in his petition challenged the trial court order dated March 3 when National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Judge framed charges against Bhat, Muhammad Sidiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmed Dagga, for committing offences under various provisions of anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Seeking quashing of the chargesheet filed by the NIA on August 2011, Bhat said that the case against him is false and fabricated.

Bhat in his petition said: ‘The trial court has failed to appreciate the blatant falsehood, fabrication and concoction writ large on the case put forth by the prosecution.’

The NIA, in its charge sheet alleged that Bhat collected over Rs.4.57 crore during a period of three years, starting January 2008, through money laundering channels for terror activities.

He said that NIA failed to establish that any money was recovered from him.

Bhat with Muhammad Sidiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmed Dagga were allegedly involved in the illegal transfer of funds through hawala channels and that these funds were being used to fund terrorist activities.

Bhat was arrested from Kashmir in January 2011 by a joint team of Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir police and Rs.21 lakh were allegedly recovered from him. Delhi Police’s anti-terror unit, Special Cell, later handed over the case to NIA.

The division bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice S.P. Garg of High Court posted the matter for April 17 for hearing.

Meanwhile, the trial which was supposed to be held Monday has been deferred by the trial court for Tuesday. National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Judge H.S. Sharma deferred the testifying of witnesses in the case for Tuesday after he found that witnesses failed to appear in the court Monday.



Court notice to 82 acquitted in Mirchpur Dalit killing

The Delhi high court on Friday issued notice to all 82 acquitted in the 2010 Mirchpur killings on a plea challenging their acquittal in the arson attack on a Dalit settlement in the village in Haryana’s Hisar district.

A division bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice SP Garg also issued notice to Delhi Police. The notices are returnable March 7.

The plea was moved by the family of a 70-year-old Dalit, who was burnt alive in the attack along with his physically-challenged daughter.

The victim’s family members and three villagers who filed the petition also sought enhancement of the sentence for 12 of the convicts as five of them were awarded five years jail term and seven others were let off on probation of one year.

The dominant Jat community had extended threats to the victims who deposed before the trial court as a witnesses in the case, said the petition.

Tarachand, 70, and his 18-year-old physically challenged daughter Suman were killed in the April 2010 arson attack on their house and a row of other Dalit houses in Mirchpur village, about 300 km from Chandigarh.

A total of 15 accused, belonging to the Jat community, were tried and held guilty in the case by a trial court.

The court earlier acquitted 82 out of 97 accused in the case, saying the allegations levelled against them were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The attack followed a dispute between members of the Jat and Dalit communities of the village.



Plot to abduct Sachin: Eight-year jail terms for six

Six Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami terrorists, including three from Pakistan, who plotted to abduct cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly in 2002 were Monday sentenced to eight-year jail terms by the Delhi High Court. A trial court had earlier awarded them life terms.

A division bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice S.P. Garg modified the order on sentence and reduced the convicts’ life term to eight years on the ground of parity with three other convicts.

The lower court had held all the six men guilty under various anti-terror and penal provisions. The convicts from Pakistan are Tariq Mohammed, Arshad Khan and Ashfaq Ahmed. The three Indians are Mufti Israr, Ghulam Qadir Bhatt and Ghulam Mohd Dar.

Bhatt Monday sought acquittal in the case in the high court. To this the court asked him to file an affidavit Tuesday as to whether he accepted the reduced sentence or he wanted to argue for an outright acquittal.

The court said that the period for which Dar remained out on bail would be declared as part of the “undergone” jail term. Dar has spent more than six years in jail.

The HuJI terrorists contended that the court earlier reduced the jail term of three of their associates, who pleaded guilty earlier, to eight years.

On Jan 15, 2011, the lower court awarded life imprisonment to all the six HuJI terrorists under the stringent Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) saying the punishment “must send a clear message that India is not nor will it become a safe haven for terrorists”.

Apart from plotting to abduct the two cricketers, the accused also planned to attack Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai and assassinate then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2002.

The convicts faced trial for offences of collecting arms with the intention of waging war against the nation and conspiring to commit offences against the state.

Besides the POTA, the accused were charged under the Arms Act and the three Pakistanis were also tried under the Foreigners Act.



Vikas Yadav gets one day’s leave from jail

Rejecting a four-day leave plea by Vikas Yadav, undergoing life imprisonment in the Nitish Katara murder case of 2002, the Delhi High Court Tuesday granted him one day’s custodial parole for signing some legal papers.

The court has asked him to fix a date for the parole.

“Yadav’s lawyer needs to inform the jail authorities as well as the public prosecutor about the date on which he intends to execute the document,” a bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Pratibha Rani said.

“Vikas Yadav is permitted to be released in custody parole for a day. The jail superintendent is directed to ensure that the applicant returns to jail on the same day after executing the document,” Justice Bhat said.

The court Nov 9 took note of Yadav’s submission that he needed to sign some property documents, and had asked the prosecuting agencies to file their replies.

Public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said in his reply Tuesday that it was not clear why Yadav needed four days to sign the papers.

“It can be done in a day,” he said.

Yadav’s counsel Vikas Pahwa said that his client needed to complete power of attorney formalities, granting rights to his brother, as the property in question was in the name of his mother and him.

He added that if for any reason the formalities cannot be completed on the same day, he would require more time.

“If the work cannot be done on the same day, you are at liberty to approach the court again,” the bench replied.

Earlier Nov 9, Neelam Katara, mother of the victim, said: “Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav always seek this kind of relief by filing such applications.”

“I have a document that reveals that Yadav brothers have been finding an easy getaway in hospitals. Vikas and Vishal Yadav made 66 hospital visits from February 2010 to date,” said Neelam Katara.

The brothers made 85 hospital visits between May 2008 and February 2010, she said.

“Yadav brothers have been out of Tihar 151 times since May 2008, for varying durations, of which Vikas alone has made 82 visits to hospitals since his conviction. Of Vikas Yadav’s 82 visits out of Tihar, 40 were for follow-up checks,” she said.

Another bench of the high court earlier allowed Vikas Yadav to leave jail for one day to attend his sister’s wedding.

Vikas Yadav, son of Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav, was convicted along with his cousin Vishal for kidnapping and murdering Nitish Katara, a close friend of his sister Bharti.

The duo kidnapped and killed Katara, son of an Indian Administrative Service officer, on the night of Feb 17, 2002, after abducting him from a marriage party in Ghaziabad as they were opposed to his relationship with Bharti.

Vikas Yadav wants four days leave from jail

The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to Delhi Police on a plea by Vikas Yadav, undergoing life imprisonment for the murder of Nitish Katara in 2002, seeking four days suspension of his sentence for signing some legal papers.

Taking note of the counsel’s submission that Vikas Yadav would sign the documents and return to custody, a division bench of Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Pratibha Rani issued notice to Delhi Police and sought their reply Nov 22.

His counsel said Vikas Yadav only needed to complete power of attorney formalities granting rights to his brother as the property was in the name of his mother and him.

The court asked, had he not been aware of this property since 2002.

Another bench had earlier allowed Vikas Yadav to leave jail for one day to attend his sister’s wedding.

Vikas Yadav, son of Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav, was convicted along with his cousin Vishal Yadav for kidnapping and murdering Nitish Katara, a close friend of his sister Bharti.

The duo had kidnapped and killed Katara, son of an IAS officer, on the night of Feb 17, 2002, after abducting him from a marriage party in Ghaziabad as they were opposed to his relationship with Bharti.

Court acquits man accused of torturing daughter-in-law

The Delhi High court has upheld a trial court’s order acquitting a man accused of torture and dowry harassment of his daughter-in-law, who later committed suicide at her parents’ house.

The division bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice G.P. Mittal said: “We are satisfied that the trial court’s findings as well as conclusions were well founded and well reasoned.”

The high court said this earlier in the month while hearing a petition filed by the prosecution against Kiran Chand’s acquittal by the lower court Aug 12, 2010.

According to the prosecution, Munni married Chandra Kant Nov 22, 2002. She committed suicide Sep 11, 2003 by hanging herself at her parents’ house in Mangolpuri in north Delhi. She left behind a suicide note blaming her husband and many of his relatives.

Rejecting the contents of the suicide note, the trial court said that the allegations of cruelty and violence were not believable so far as Kiran Chand was concerned.

“The suicide note in this case significantly speaks about the role of other two accused, Chandra Kant and his mother Kanta, who were proclaimed offenders,” the trial court said, while acquitting Munni’s father-in-law.

Focusing on the suicide note, the high court bench said: “According to the suicide note, no specific role is attributed to the father-in-law of the deceased.”

“No interference is called for. We do not find any error or infirmity in the impugned judgment. The state is, therefore, not entitled to a leave to file an appeal. The petition is meritless and has to fail,” said the bench.


Jailed as juvenile, man awarded Rs.5 lakh compensation

 The Delhi High Court Friday directed the Delhi government to pay a compensation of Rs.5 lakh to a man who was jailed for eight years despite being a juvenile when he committed a murder.

According to law, juveniles cannot be punished for more than three years.

Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice G.P Mittal said: “In this case, the facts would reveal that the accused juvenile suffered incarceration for over eight years, nearly three times the maximum prescribed under the Act for sending a juvenile, found to have committed an offence, to a special home (which is three years)”.

The court passed the order on an appeal filed by Ramesh challenging a trial court order of 2004, which awarded life term to him and his friend for murdering his colleague.

“The report relied on by this court, which has not been challenged by the state, indicates that he was about 14-15 years as on the date of occurrence.”

“These facts reveal an extremely disturbing picture, pointing to wholesale violation of the procedure established by law, and illegal detention of Ramesh for 5 years. This failure was systemic, because neither the police nor the prosecution, nor the counsel or even the court, all of whom had sufficient opportunity to observe the accused, even thought it appropriate to consider, let alone explore the possibility of applying for determination of the age,” said Justice Bhat.

He observed that there is a clear violation of the right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Ramesh and Subash, who was 23, after consuming liquor, had banged their colleague Mukesh’s head against a bench Nov 11, 2001. They then strangulated him to death with a pipe.

The High Court held Subash guilty.

The bench said: “The appellant (Subash) has been rightly held guilty. We do not find error or infirmity in the trial court judgement and order impugned in this appeal, accordingly, Subash’s appeal is dismissed.”

“Unfortunately, Ramesh has already spent eight years in jail far excess of the maximum period of three years, that too could have been spent by him in a special home as per section 15 (1) (g) of the juvenile Act,” the verdict said.

The bench, putting a question to itself, said: “What do we do? Should we again send Ramesh to the juvenile justice board to be dealt with or shall we end the proceedings here.”

“We are of the opinion that it would be great injustice to direct Ramesh to face an inquiry again before the board,” said the bench.

The bench, putting a stay on all the proceedings against Ramesh, directed the concerned department to quash all criminal cases lodged against him.

“Having regard to all these circumstances, this court directs the Delhi government to pay Rs.5 lakh to Ramesh within eight weeks’ time,” said verdict said, adding that Delhi government shall file an affidavit indicating compliance with these direction within ten weeks.

Court upholds life term for teacher who hijacked plane

The Delhi High Court Tuesday upheld the order of a trial court awarding a life sentence to a teacher who posed as a human bomb and hijacked a Chennai-bound Indian Airlines flight in 1993 to highlight corruption.

Hari Singh hijacked the plane, which took off from Delhi, March 27, 1993. He was convicted by the trial court in 2001 and was out on bail since 2003. He would now have to surrender by April 20.

A division bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice G.P. Mittal said: “This court finds no infirmity with the approach or finding of the trial court, the conviction of Hari Singh has to be sustained.”

“The appeal consequently fails and is dismissed,” said the court adding that the appellant (Hari Singh) has to now surrender before the concerned court April 20.

“A conviction is justified in the facts of the case. Unfortunately for Singh there is no sentencing choice once a conviction is returned, because section 4 (of anti-hijacking law) mandates only one punishment and that is life imprisonment,” said the court.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Singh through his lawyer Sandeep Sethi challenging the trial court order awarding him a life sentence.

While rejecting Singh’s plea, the court said: “It was emphasized that the appellant did not behave violently, nor was any arm or explosive or weapon recovered from him. Likewise, the 31-page letter given to the commander (by him) also revealed his concern for the passengers and a great deal of anxiety for their well-being.”

“The letter revealed that Singh was disturbed by the falling social values, corruption in high places, unreality of the political class and violence in society and other public issue,” the court said.

The judges said even though every citizen of this country was worried over the issue of corruption they could not take law in their own hands.

The court suggested to the government to consider the issue of reviewing Singh’s sentence, in exercise of its power.

A Delhi court in August 2001 awarded Singh a life term under the anti-hijacking law, rigorous imprisonment of two years for obstructing the crew, rigorous imprisonment of seven years for kidnapping the passengers along with crew and rigorous imprisonment of seven years for threatening to kill them.

The court also asked him to pay a fine Rs.500 on three counts.

He hijacked the Chennai-bound flight and wanted to take it to Lahore but surrendered at Punjab’s border city of Amritsar after being persuaded by former state police chief K.P.S Gill.

The flight took off from Delhi airport at 6.30 a.m. and when it was about 100 km from Hyderabad, Singh asked the crew to take it to Lahore. But the plane was forced to land in Amritsar as it was low on fuel.