Agreement reached on Pak judicial panelís visit to India

India and Pakistan on Tuesday finalised the terms of reference for a judicial commission expected to visit India to gather evidence on the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks after talks held over the past five days.

An agreement on the visit of the second Pakistani judicial commission to Mumbai was finalised on Tuesday evening following several rounds of discussions on complex technical and legal issues, official sources told PTI. The talks began on Thursday after a four-member Indian team, including legal experts from the Home and External Affairs ministries, arrived in Islamabad. The two sides reached an agreement following protracted discussions on the terms of reference.

The Indian side formally conveyed to the Pakistani officials that in the case of countries like India and Pakistan, which do not have a mutual legal assistance treaty, an executive agreement between the two governments would take precedence over local laws, the sources said.

The sources further said that it would take some more time to finalise the visit of the Pakistani commission. First, permission for the visit would have to be sought from the Bombay High Court. Subsequently, permission would have to be sought from the Pakistani anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

The Indian team was earlier scheduled to return on Saturday at the conclusion of two-day talks with a Pakistani team that included prosecutors from the Federal Investigation Agency and officials of the Interior Ministry and National Crisis Management Cell. Three members of the delegation returned on Monday and a Joint Secretary from the Home Ministry stayed behind for further discussions. The sources said the two sides discussed a number of complex issues.

The Pakistani commission will cross-examine four Indian witnesses in Mumbai, including the police officer who led the probe into the Mumbai attacks, the magistrate who recorded lone surviving attacker Ajmal Kasab's confession and two doctors who conducted autopsies of terrorists killed in the attacks.

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