A three-member team of Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has left for Islamabad on Wednesday to finalise the terms of reference for the second Pakistan judicial commission, which is expected to visit India soon to cross-examine witnesses in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
The delegation, headed by Dharmendra Sharma, will hold discussions with Pakistan Interior Ministry officials and fix the terms of reference for the second judicial commission so that their courts once again do not declare them ‘ultra vires’. To ensure that all legal aspects related to the case are debated and considered, New Delhi has included public prosecutor of 26/11 case Ujwal Nigam in the team, which will hold deliberations till December 22.
During the just concluded three-day visit of Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the Centre had given in principle approval for the second judicial commission, on the condition of going through records of Pakistan investigative agency and a court judgment. Pakistan had forwarded a new terms of reference for the second visit of the panel last month.
Earlier in July this year, anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi, which is conducting the trial of seven accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, had refused to consider the findings of Pakistan Judicial Commission as evidence in the case, terming it ‘illegal’. Following the setback in the court, Malik had requested Union Home Minister SushilKumar Shinde to allow the second visit of judicial commission, with fresh terms of reference.
Shinde had conveyed New Delhi’s condition, before allowing the commission. He has reportedly sought an assurance from Pakistan Government that the second commission visit would be the final trip and Pakistani law officers should certify its admissibility in its courts.
Sources in the MHA said whatever evidence the first judicial commission collected had evidential value because the statements were recorded by the magistrate and examined by the members of the judicial panel. However, it failed to convince Pakistan authorities.
The evidence included the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab and a CD of intercepted conversation between the terrorist and their handlers in Pakistan.