On March 9, 2010, the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench declared as inadmissible the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab recorded in India against Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the Mumbai attack. This strengthens Lakhvi’s case and makes it more difficult for the Government now to convict him.
In their judgment on a writ petition of Lakhvi, the operational head of banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Saghir Ahmed Qadri observed that under Pakistani criminal laws a confessional statement could be admissible only in the same case, and not in another case.
The court, however, ordered that Lakhvi should face the trial and seek acquittal from the anti-terrorism court where the case was in process.
The decision which was reserved on Jan 26 was announced by Justice Asad Munir and Justice Ijaz Ahmed because the judges who had authored the verdict were not at the Rawalpindi bench this week.
The bench maintained that Ajmal Kasab and Faheem Arshad Ansari had not been cited as co-accused in the case registered by the Federal Investigation Agency and seven accused were being tried by the anti-terrorism court.
The bench said that the name of Kasab was not on the list of 20 accused declared as proclaimed offender in three different investigation reports under section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1898.
The high court also set aside the decision of the trial court separating the trial of Kasab from that of Lakhvi and others under section 540-A of CrPC and described it as illegal and beyond the jurisdiction of the trial court. The section 540-A could only be used against the accused who could not reappear before the court for being ill or for any other reason, the order said.
After the court’s decision, Lakhvi’s lawyer Shahbaz Ahmed Rajpoot said that the prosecution in Pakistan had based its case on the confessional statement of Kasab and when the high court declared it as inadmissible under Qanoon-i-Shahdat 1984 the case against the seven men undergoing trial could not be proved.
Lakhvi had challenged the Jan 6 order of the trial court setting aside the acquittal petition filed by him and six other accused. The petitioner sought acquittal on the ground that the prosecution had no evidence against him except the statement of Kasab which was not admissible under Pakistani laws.