Three months after a special anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi had declined to admit the Pakistan Judicial Commission’s report as ‘evidence’ against the 26/11 accused, Islamabad has forwarded new terms of reference for a second visit of its panel to India.
In July, the anti-terrorism court, which is conducting the trial of the seven accused, had termed the report of the commission ‘illegal’.
Sources said Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has made the request to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. “The formal request and fresh terms of reference were recently received by New Delhi and has been forwarded to legal experts for their opinion.”
Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman, the anti-terrorism court judge, had termed the proceedings and the reports of the Pakistani Judicial Commission that visited Mumbai in March 2012 ‘illegal’, as it failed to cross-examine the witnesses.
However, India had contested the observations made by the court, saying that the cross-examination of the witnesses was never part of the agreement signed between India and Pakistan. The agreement allows the Judicial Commissions of both the countries to collect and share evidence to expedite the prosecution of terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks.
The eight-member commission, which includes prosecutors and four defence lawyers of the accused, had visited Mumbai in March 2012. The commission, apart from collecting crucial evidence, had interviewed two doctors who had conducted the autopsies on the bodies of the nine slain terrorists.
However, no cross-examination was allowed, as per the agreement between the two nations. The four witnesses, supposed to be examined by the Judicial Commission, include the magistrate, who recorded the confessional statement of LeT terrorist Ajmal Kasab, the probing officer of the 26/11 case and two doctors, of the Nair and JJ hospitals, who had conducted the postmortem examinations.