2 facing death freed in Lajpat Nagar blast case

High Court takes police to task for 'casualness and slipshod approach'

Criticising Delhi Police for its "slipshod approach" and "casualness", which failed to ensure "minimum standards or proof required in a criminal trial", the Delhi High Court on Thursday acquitted two men, Mirza Nisar Hussain alias Naza and Mohd Ali Bhatt alias Kille, who had been sentenced to death by a trial court in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case.

The bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and G P Mittal also commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence awarded to Mohd Naushad but upheld the life term for Javed Ahmed Khan alias Chhota Javed. All four had appealed against the trial court order.

After the order, standing counsel (criminal) Pawan Sharma, who appeared for the state, said: "We will consider filing an appeal against the verdict after going through the judgment."

Police had claimed that the four men were members of the Jammu and Kashmir Islamic From and were behind the blast at the crowded Lajpat Nagar market that killed 13 people and injured 38.

In April 2010, a Sessions court convicted the four men. Two others, Farooq Ahmed Khan and a woman named Farida Dar, were held guilty for offences under the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act. They were sentenced to jail for seven years and four years and two months, respectively.

Acquitting Mirza Nisar Hussain and Mohd Ali Bhatt, the High Court on Thursday took police to task: "The nature of grave prosecution lapses, in regard to various issues, such as lack of proof connecting some of the accused with the bomb incident, failure to hold TIP of articles and the accused... not recording the statements of vital witnesses... underline not only its lapses and inefficiencies, but also throw up question marks as to the nature and truthfulness of the evidence produced."

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