Saturday, February 4, 2023

Kozhikode twin blast case: Kerala High Court acquits prime accused, flays NIA for sketchy probe

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Coming down heavily on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for their lack of effort in gathering independent evidence and improper recording of confessions, the Kerala High Court has acquited two prime accused in the 2006 twin bomb blast case of Kozhikode district. 

A Division Bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and C Jayachandran on Thursday observed that there was no reliable evidence regarding preparation or commission of the crime that would incriminate the accused beyond any  reasonable doubt. 
The Bench further noted that the approver’s evidence, relied on heavily by the prosecution, was unreliable and uncorroborated, under Section 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act.

The case pertained to the twin bomb blasts in the Kozhikode KSRTC and Mofussil bus stands on March 3, 2006.

Nine people were arrested for allegedly conspiring, planning and executing the twin blasts, including Thadiyantevida Nazeer and Shafas.

Investigation into the blasts was first taken over by the Crime Branch Criminal Investigation Department (CBCID) and later by NIA.

The Special Court for NIA Cases, Kerala, Ernakulam had found Nazeer and Shafas guilty of the offences under Sections 16(1) & 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA), Sections 124(A) and 153(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 4(b) of Explosive Substances Act, 1884.

The Court stated that as per the mandate of the Supreme Court, there was a twin-test that must be satisfied before accepting an approver’s evidence, which included the test of reliability of the approver and the test of corroboration.
The Approver did not speak of any long standing close relationship with any of the accused and it was very unlikely that such a casual acquaintance would be summoned, when a seditious act of explosion in a public place was planned, noted the Court.
The Bench further said that disclosures made by the approver was when the NIA took him under their custody, before which itself he had expressed his desire to turn approver.

The Court opined that if 

there was no independent evidence of the crime, a recovery under Section 27 or a conduct under Section 8 of the Evidence Act, could not by itself or solely result in a conviction.

The Court opined that Section 164 statement of the approver, especially in the teeth of its finding on the credibility of the approver, did not offer any corroboration.

Further, the Court found that all the disclosures recorded, contained a confession regarding the involvement in the bomb blast, which was inadmissible under Sections 25 and 26; whether it be for the purposes of Section 27 or Section 8.

When the portion of the disclosure that offends Section 25 and 26 are eschewed, then the disclosures lead to no discovery of fact having a connection with the crime and the conduct too has no bearing.

Even in the chief examination, the Court discovered that there was no attempt made by the prosecution to call upon the approver to identify each of the accused standing in the dock.

On the strength of these findings and the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court acquitted Nazeer and Shafas.

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