NEW DELHI: Having filed a chargesheet in the the Pathankot airbase terror attack case, the NIA will now move the trial court to issue a Letter Rogatory to Pakistan for seeking the custody of the four Pakistan-based conspirators, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar.
Top intelligence sources said the trial in the case cannot be initiated since the four Pakistani terrorists who hit the strategic airbase in Punjab were killed by security forces at the scene of the crime. The four other accused in the case — Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and two other accused — are also Pakistani nationals.
This is unlike the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case in which at least one accused, Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, was there and the trial was conducted in the absence of masterminds like Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and others who continue to be at large.
A senior NIA official conceded that the presence of the accused is required as per the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code during the framing of the charges.
And since the accused are at large, the court will take cognisance of the chargesheet and the proceedings in the court will be withheld sine die till further orders, the official said.
He further explained that in the absence of anyone to face trial, neither the abatement of proceedings nor prosecution against the accused can be pursued. However, after taking cognisance of the chargesheet, the trial court will direct the NIA to produce the accused persons before it for framing charges against them.
The NIA believes that Pakistan will very unlikely hand over the terrorists to India. The court is likely to declare them proclaimed offenders and the trial might be withheld.