Second Pak panel visit likely by Jan-end

Mumbai terror attacks

The second Pakistan judicial commission looking into the 26/11 terror attack case is likely to visit India by the end of January after it is given approval by the Bombay High Court, said a Home Ministry official.

The confirmation of arrangements under the CrPC was finalised between the two sides after a meeting of Home Ministry officials with their counterparts on December 25 in Islamabad.

Sources said that the Home Ministry will approach the Bombay High Court soon to seek its approval for the visit of the Pakistani panel to cross-examine four witnesses in the Mumbai terror attack case. The witnesses are Metropolitan Magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant-Waghule, who recorded the confessional statement of hanged terrorist Ajmal Kasab, Chief Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale and two doctors from the state-run Nair and JJ Hospitals, who had conducted autopsies of nine terrorists.

The cross-examination of the four witnesses is required to take the ongoing 26/11 trial in a Rawalpindi court to its logical conclusion. Seven terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Toiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, were charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008.

Once the approval of the High Court is received, New Delhi will convey the same to Islamabad which in turn will inform the Lahore High Court for intimation to the Rawalpindi court.

During its visit, the Indian team also secured an assurance from Pakistani authorities that the findings of the second judicial commission would not be summarily rejected by the anti-terrorism court that is conducting the trial of seven men. The findings of the first Pakistani judicial commission that visited India in March 2012 were rejected by the anti-terrorism court as the panel's members were not allowed to cross-examine the Indian witnesses.

After the judicial panel visits India and cross-examines the witnesses, Islamabad will be expected to reciprocate by granting an Indian judicial commission access to Pakistani suspects when it visits the country at a later stage.

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