Md. Salman, arrested by the Uttar Pradesh ATS from Siddharthnagar on 6 March 2010, was accused of being a conspirator in the 2008 Delhi blasts. Today (5th February 2011), additional sessions Judge Ms. Santosh Snehi Mann threw out all charges against him— at the point of charge—in all five cases in Delhi bomb blasts for lack of any evidence that could prove that he had conspired to bomb various places in Delhi in 2008.
In the final hearing held on 31st January 2011 before the announcing of the verdict on charges, the Public Prosecutor, Raju Mohan—responding to very specific questions by the Judge regarding the evidence against Salman—was unable to produce anything to substantiate the prosecution’s claim. Prosecution’s case was based on three pieces of supposed evidence:
1) A Fake Passport that the prosecution claimed was seized from Salman.
It is noteworthy that no passport was placed before the court. The police claimed to have seized from him a ‘photocopy’ of the fake passport, with a false name, which gave his age as 27 years at the time of arrest.
2) A health card from Saudi Arab, which again listed his age as 27 years.
The Judge stated that if Salman had been arrested in possession of a fake Nepali passport and a health card from Dubai, these were charges that should be dealt with separately. “How does that (this evidence) make Salman a conspirator in these cases?” she asked the prosecution.
It is to be noted that Salman was a minor at the time of the blasts and, even if accused, ought to have been tried under the Juvenile Justice Act (his high school certificate clearly shows his date of birth as 03/10/92). The police was well aware of this fact, and in order to mislead the courts, deliberately planted a photocopy of the forged passport and health card. If indeed, the health card and forged passports had been found on the person of Salman, why did the police not book him under the relevant charges at the time of his arrests?
3) All that the prosecution presented was call transcripts of Salman’s conversations with Atif Amin and Dr. Shahnawaz. The PP had claimed that Salman had been arrested because of his connections with Atif. The Judge stated that she had heard the intercepted conversations and felt they were “normal conversations between two boys”. The judge also had questions about the phone calls between Salman and Dr. Shahnawaz. She described the intercepted conversations between them as “flippant conversations” and said that the phone was not in the name of Salman.
Confronted with the absence of evidence, the PP repeatedly resorted to raising the spectre of the ‘war on terror’. Does the prosecution believe that the war on terror legitimizes vitiating the due processes of law, which demand verifiable evidence? Or that lack of evidence can be substituted by the dubious doctrine of guilt by association?
Salman’s discharge at this stage of charge indicates the weakness of the Delhi Police’s claims.