Yes, I Was Associated With ABVP, Says NIA Prosecutor in Mecca Masjid Blast Case
N Harinath denied that he lacked the experience to fight the case and said that he has made the standing counsel in 2011 during the UPA government rule.
Mecca Masjid in old city of Hyderabad. A Special NIA court on Monday acquitted all accused in the 2007 blast case. (Image: PTI)
New Delhi: In an exclusive interview to News18, the prosecution lawyer in the Mecca Masjid case has revealed that he was associated with BJP’s youth wing ABVP in the past but said the association had nothing to do with his profession.
N Harinath said that he had come in contact with ABVP during his second year in law college. “I joined because a lot of my friends were associated with the unit. But I would like to say that that association has never influenced my work and neither do I work for the BJP,” he said.
Question marks have been raised over his appointment as the special public prosecutor in the case after the special NIA court acquitted the five accused. Apart from his links with ABVP, there have been reports that Harinath had little experience in criminal law and lacked the knowledge of murder trial required in terror cases like the Mecca Masjid blast case.
Harinath rubbished the charges. He said that he has been standing counsel since 2000 and from 2004-2009, he was working in the High Court as a government law official. It was in 2011 during UPA government that he was made the standing counsel. Four years later, he was given permission to appear for the NIA. “The allegation that I was made the standing counsel only during the NDA government is absolutely false,” he added.
He also revealed that the Mecca Masjid case had weakened during the year 2010 under the UPA government when the CBI was in charge of the probe. Aseemanand was first arrested by CBI in 2010 but was granted conditional bail in 2017 in the case.
He was earlier acquitted in Ajmer Dargah blast case, and has also got bail in Samjhauta Express blast case of 2014. When the CBI filed Aseemananand’s confessional statement on December 18, 2010, in front of the magistrate in Delhi, the latter noted that the statement was made when Aseemanand was in custody. This note by the magistrate weakened the confession, Harinath said.
The lawyer further said that the probe was handed over to the NIA in 2012, which filed the supplementary charge sheet in 2013 during the UPA government tenure. The whole case was resting on Aseemanand’s confession but he narrated a different version in court.
The chargesheet stated that Aseemanand had allegedly told two people, Maqbool and Kaleem, that he was saddened by the death of innocents and that he should not have been a conspirator in the blasts. The lawyer added that the investigating agency, however, could not provide proper evidence to prove that conversation.
“The judgment is based on evidence and statements made by witnesses. In the case of Mecca Masjid, most witnesses turned hostile and what NIA had in the name of evidence was Aseemanand’s confessional statement, which had already weakened in 2010. The case was fought with the highest level of transparency and honesty but without proper evidence, the prosecution can’t do anything,” Harinath said.
He added that questions on the case were being raised to taint his reputation and that he will file defamation suits against media organizations that are trying to tarnish his image.
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