A Delhi Court has acquitted one Trilochan singh in connection with a case pertaining to two blasts at Liberty Cinema and Satyam Cinema that rocked the national capital in the year 2005.
The Court observed that the prosecution miserably failed to prove its case or that Singh was a member of banned terrorist organisation Babbar Khalsa International. It further added that merely because the co-accused persons have pleaded guilty and have been convicted is not a ground to convict Singh.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana acquitted Singh of the charges under Sections 18 and 20 of Unlawful Activities ( Prevention) of Atrocities Act and Section 25 of the Arms Act.
The facts of the case are that the analysis of phone calls of the prime accused namely, Jagtar Singh Hawara, behind the bomb blasts revealed certain international mobile numbers. Subsequently, after bomb blasts in Paharganj, Sarojini Nagar and Govind Puri area of the city, it was revealed that these international numbers belongs to one Cheema/Jeeta and one H. S. Gill, an absconder in the murder of Beant Singh, Ex-Chief Minister of Punjab. It was also revealed that one Gurpreet and Paramjeet singh Bheora were also in touch with these international numbers.
Paramjeet Singh Bheora and Jagtar Singh Hawara are reported to be the main leaders of Babbar Khalsa International, a banned terrorist organisation, in India. They were also reported to be involved in the assassination of Beant Singh and had escaped from Burail Jail with one Jagtar Singh.
Meanwhile, surveillance of phone number used in Nabha Jail revealed that it was used to contact Cheema in USA by accused Daya Singh Lahoria and Baljeet Singh. The interception of this number further revealed that it was used by Sukhvinder Singh, who was working under the command of Daya Singh Lahoria, for operating drugs and arms network with the help of overseas connections.
According to the prosecution's case, it was also revealed that Baljeet Singh recruited and trained Jaswant, Surender Singh, Bikkar Singh and Trilochan Singh and that they were planning for terrorist action. It was also alleged that the accused persons used to converse with each other in coded and guarded languages.
Later, on being apprehended by Special Cell in 2007, Baljeet Singh disclosed that he was an active member of BKI and was involved in anti-national activities and associated with Jagtar Singh Hawara, Chief of BKI in India, Paramjeet Singh Bheora and Daya Singh. He also disclosed that he managed four pistols and some ammunitions for the assassination of Baba Pyara Singh Paniharewala.
He further revealed that he entrusted three pistols and some ammunitions to accused Kulwinderjeet Singh and the remaining one pistol and some ammunitions were given to accused Trilochan Singh. It was disclosed that these pistols were procured through the network of Daya Singh Lahoria and Sukhvinder Singh.
Vide order dated 13.12.2012, charge under sec. 18/20 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was framed against accused Daya Singh Lahoria, Sukhvinder Singh, Baljeet Singh and Trilochan Singh. Charges were also framed under sec. 25 of the Arms Act against accused Baljeet Singh and Trilochan Singh. All the accused persons pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
Concerning the charge for commission of offence punishable under sec. 18 of UAPA, the prosecution had argued that accused Trilochan Singh was part of a larger conspiracy to revive militancy in Punjab and with this objective, he conspired to eliminate Baba Pyara Singh Paniharewala and he was indulged in preparatory acts to eliminate Baba Pyara Singh Paniharewala.
It was submitted that on account of the very nature of offence, direct evidence in a case of conspiracy was seldom forthcoming. It was submitted that the circumstantial evidence available on record unambiguously pointed towards the guilt of the accused Trilochan Singh. The Court was further of the view that the meaning attempted to be ascribed by the prosecution to the general words like plot, khet, fasal, paani etc could only be accepted when it rules out of the possibility of any error on the part of the police official.
The possibility of any enthusiastic police officer misinterpreting plain and simple words on account of suspicion and over jealous approach cannot be ruled out. There must be some credible material available on record justifying the meaning ascribed to plain and general words by the prosecution. The words should have either been established as standard phrases in lingua franca used by the criminals or atleast there must be a pattern discernible in the words used so that they can be interpreted in a particular manner," the Court said.
Observing that it would be unjustified to rely upon the interpretation rendered by IO, the Court was of the opinion that the intercepted conversation was not of much help for the cause of the prosecution to establish that the Trilochan Singh had entered into some sort of conspiracy to carry out a terrorist act and deserved to be discarded.
The Court further noted that the argument that Trilochan Singh had collected arms and ammunitions to eliminate Baba Pyara Singh Paniharewala was based more upon conjectures and surmises and lacked a sound foundation backed by credible evidence.
"Except for the above discussed hazy and obscure intercepted telephonic conversation, there is no evidence available on record to suggest that the alleged weapons were collected by the accused to eliminate Baba Pyara Singh Paniharewala. In the absence of any evidence, leave aside the credible one, it cannot be presumed that the arms were collected by the accused to murder Baba Pyara Singh Paniharewala," the Court observed.
The Court held that Trilochan Singh could not be held guilty for commission of offence under sec. 18 of UAPA merely because the co-accused persons had pleaded guilty and had been convicted. The case of the accused is required to be judged independently on its own merits and he cannot be convicted simply because the other co-accused persons have pleaded guilty, the Judge added.
Doubts regarding the probative value of intercepted telephonic conversation and the recovered arms and ammunitions has already been discussed above. Once the intercepted conversations and recovery of arms and ammunitions from accused Trilochan Singh are discarded, there is no material available on record to connect accused Trilochan Singh with BKI. Therefore, I am convinced that prosecution has miserably failed to prove on record that accused Trilochan Singh was member of banned terrorist organisation Babbar Khalsa International and he accordingly deserves to be acquitted for the charge of offence punishable u/s 20 of UAPA," the Court said.
Furthermore, the Court opined that shadow of doubt appeared upon the prosecution version and that the evidence available on record was not of sterling quality to hold Trilochan Singh liable for the commission of the offences punishable under sec. 18 and 20 of UAPA and under sec. 25 Arms Act.
"It is settled proposition of law that in a criminal trial, the prosecution is required to prove its case beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt and in the case at hand, the prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case and accused deserves the benefit of doubt," the Court concluded in this case.