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Kanishka ruling: Justice Kirpal disappointed

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | March 17, 2005 15:02 IST

Former chief justice of India, Justice B N Kirpal, who headed a commission of inquiry into the Kanishka bombing, on Thursday expressed his disappointment over the acquittal of the two main accused in the case.

All 329 people on board Air-India's Flight 182, Montreal to London, were killed when the aircraft exploded and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Ireland, on June 23, 1985.

Also see: Kanishka accused acquitted | Coverage

The two main accused in the case, Ripudaman Singh Malik, 57, and Ajaib Singh Bagri, 55, who were tried in a Vancouver court in Canada, were acquitted on Thursday.

"I do feel disappointed because our inquiries were comprehensive. I am not in a position to comment because I have not seen the judgment. But it seems that the judge has let off Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri because the prosecution was not able to prove their involvement [in the bombing] beyond reasonable doubt," Justice Kirpal told in New Delhi.

Also see: The Kanishka verdict: The families' agony

He regretted that the Canadian police could not do a good job of collecting evidence to support their case. "If they [Malik and Bagri] did not do it, then someone else did it? Who did it? That is the question that needs to be answered. If someone else placed the bomb in the aircraft then the Canadian police have failed to track them down. It is a pity that nobody has been convicted in a case involving the loss so many lives," Justice Kirpal said.

Asked if the Canadian government or the victims could approach the Supreme Court for a review of the order, Justice Kirpal said that it would depend upon the laws of the land. "I am not familiar with the Canadian laws so I am in no position to say whether or not a review is possible," he added.

He said for the Canadian authorities, the judgment must cause some concern. "It must concern them...they have failed to apprehend the culprits in such a heinous crime despite the fact that the conspiracy was hatched on Canadian soil," Justice Kirpal said.

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