The Supreme Court Friday slammed the Gujarat Police for the incompetence with which it investigated the 2002 Akshardhan terror attack case as it acquitted all the six accused including three who were sentenced to death by a lower court.
Acquitting all the six convicts, a bench of Judstice A.K.Patnaik and Justice V. Gopala Gowda in their judgment said: "We intend to express our anguish about the incompetence with which the investigating agencies conducted the investigation of the case of such a grievous nature, involving the integrity and security of the nation."
"Instead of booking the real culprits responsible for taking so many precious lives, police caught innocent people and got imposed the grievous charges against them which resulted in their conviction and subsequent sentencing," Justice Gowda said speaking for the bench.
Pulling up the Gujarat Police, the court said that "the courts below had ignored these basic legal principles while admitting the statement of witnesses while weighing the case against the accused persons" as it set aside the conviction and sentencing of six accused by the special court and the same being upheld by the high court.
"We allow the appeals accordingly by setting aside the judgment and order of special court (POTA) in dated July 1, 2006 and the impugned common judgment and orders dated June 1, 2 2010 of the Gujarat High Court, the court said acquitting all the convicts.
"On the basis of the issues, we have already answered the facts and evidence on record and on the basis of the legal principles laid down by this court, we are convinced that accused persons are innocent with respect to the charges leveled against them," the court said.
The terror strike on Akshardam temple, which claimed 33 lives and left 85 injured, started on the afternoon of Sep 24, 2002, and lasted till Sep 25 morning.
Adambhai Sulemanbhai Ajmeri, Abdul Qaiyum Muftisaab Mohmed Bhai and AChand Khan were sentenced to death in July 2006 by the special POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) court set up to try the terror case.
While Mohammed Salim Shaikh was sentenced to life imprisonment (entire life), Abdulmiyan Qadri was given a 10-year term and Altaf Hussain was awarded five year imprisonment.