New Delhi, Oct. 30: Telephone intercepts of conversations between three accused in the Parliament attack case cannot be treated as evidence under the anti-terrorism Act, Delhi High Court held today.
Justice M.A. Khan’s ruling is being described as a major setback for the prosecution as Delhi police’s special cell was banking on phone intercepts as primary evidence to pin suspended Delhi University lecturer Sayed Abdul Geelani and Navjot Sandhu.
Sandhu is the wife of Shaukat Hussain, another accused in this case.
The trio had approached Delhi High Court in July days after the trial court had upheld charges framed against them under the anti-terror law.
While disagreeing with trial judge S.N. Dhingra’s order that there was prima facie evidence against the accused, the high court ruled that the intercepted conversations could be used as evidence only under the Evidence Act, the Telegraph Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Khan left it to the trial court to consider if the intercepts could be considered under the three Acts other than the anti-terror law.
Welcoming the order, defence lawyer Nitya Ramachandran said: “The Pota (anti-terror law) case gets a serious knocking now. It highlights lapses on prosecution’s part for they did not follow the basic points of the draconian Act.”
Ramachandran, the counsel for Geelani and Sandhu, contended that the special cell did not adhere to the guidelines prescribed on telephone intercepts under the anti-terror law.
Among them was one saying that the accused should be supplied a copy of the intercepts before trial begins.
The counsel alleged that the chargesheet did not mention under what law the police was using the intercepts and whose permission they had taken to tap the telephone.
Telephone conversations between Hussain and his wife Sandhu and Geelani and his brother Shah Faizal — not an accused — were intercepted, the police had claimed.
The counsel said the police had presented before the trial court two orders on wire-tapping from the home secretary. One was dated December 31, 2001, and the other January 19, 2002.
First, the order was taken more than two weeks after the incident, indicating complete ignorance of any interception, she said. Second, the two letters gave permission to tap under the Telegraph Act and not under the anti-terror law, she said.
Six days later, the anti-terror law was added in the Parliament attack first information report, she alleged.