The Supreme Court on Monday directed a special TADA court in Ajmer, Rajasthan to frame charges within three months against an accused jailed for 11 years for serial blasts in multiple Rajdhani Express and other trains in 1993. The top court kept the bail plea of Hameer Ui Uddin, who was arrested in 2010 by the Uttar Pradesh police, pending and said it would be considered after the framing of charges against him.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna asked the CBI to facilitate the presence of co-accused Syed Abdul Karim alias Tunda lodged in Ghaziabad jail before the special court for framing of charges in the case and ensure the trial in the matter begins. The top court listed the matter for further hearing on December 10. At the outset, advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for Hameer Ui Uddin, said that the facts of the present case are shocking and the petitioner is innocent at this stage as no trial has been conducted.
He said that there is no basis for detaining him, without even framing of charges, for more than 10 years in a case, where it is legitimately expected that the maximum sentence he may get is life imprisonment. The CBI in its counter affidavit has taken a perverse plea that the framing of charges was delayed in the absence of the original records. There is no need for original records to launch prosecution or conduct a trial. The CBI manual prescribes preserving records and case property, for a period of 30 years, in case of absconding accused persons. There are always multiple copies of the records that are available and charges could be framed, Alam said.
The bench said that it understands that there is a delay and even the special judge in its report has cited three reasons- pendency of application of accused of legal aid lawyer for seven years, non-appointment of the public prosecutor, and non-availability of original records of the case. Alam contended that there is an unconscionable failure of justice by the trial court not granting a lawyer to the accused for a period of seven long years. It's not only a constitutional guarantee to the accused but it is also a statutory duty of the trial court under section 304 CrPC. These rights of the petitioner have been grossly violated and there is no explanation for that, he said.
The lawyer said that bail in TADA offences is granted to those accused, who had absconded, and the rights of the accused guaranteed under Article 21 which is the speedy trial in the present case, trump any other statutory prohibition for grant of bail. The bench said that the only problem it is facing is that this court has upheld the conviction of co-accused in the case and they have been awarded life imprisonment.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for CBI, said that the accused has absconded for 17-long years and he cannot be released on bail, as there is apprehension that he will not return back at the time when there is conviction and life imprisonment of the co-accused. Raju said that he understands that there is a delay in commencement of trial but for that majorly the accused is to be blamed and CBI had played a minor part. The bench said 11-years is not a minor part.
The top court had earlier asked the CBI to either convict the accused or acquit him but don't delay the commencement of trial and said that the accused has been in jail for 11-years without even framing charges against him. It had sought a report from the special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court judge in Ajmer explaining why charges have not been framed against Hameer Ui Uddin.
The Rajasthan government has earlier claimed that the main reason for the delay in the framing of charges is that one of the co-accused Syed Abdul Karim alias Tunda is lodged in the Ghaziabad jail. Then either you separate the trial or club the trial with his case but at least start the trial, the top court had said.
In his plea filed through advocate Farrukh Rasheed, the petitioner has challenged the TADA court of March 27, 2019, rejecting his bail application. As per the prosecution case, on December 5-6, 1993, serial bomb blasts took place in Rajdhani express trains — Mumbai to New Delhi, New Delhi to Howrah, Howrah to New Delhi — Surat-Baroda Flying Queen Express, and Hyderabad-New Delhi AP Express.
Two passengers lost their lives in the blasts and 22 suffered injuries. Five different cases were registered at respective police stations in Kota, Valsad, Kanpur, Allahabad, and Malkaj-Giri.
These cases were later transferred to the CBI and re-registered under TADA at Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, and Hyderabad. The investigation found that the bomb blasts were an outcome of one single conspiracy and hence all cases were clubbed together. On August 25, 1994, the CBI filed a charge sheet against 13 accused, who were arrested, and nine other absconding accused.
Hameer Ui Uddin was shown as absconding. The charge sheet alleged that he was one of the accused who carried bomb devices and explosive substances to Kanpur on December 5, 1993.
Hameer Ui Uddin was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police and Lucknow Special Task Force on February 2, 2010, and was produced before the Ajmer TADA court on March 8, 2010, which remanded him to judicial custody. In 2010, an 8000-page charge sheet was filed against him under various provisions of the TADA and Explosive Substance Act, Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act, and the Indian Railways Act.