A local court has framed charges against suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorist Shahzad Ahmed, involved in a gun battle with a Delhi police team at Batla House in New Delhi in 2008, paving the way for start of trial against him.
Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar charged Ahmed, alias Pappu, for the offences of murder (Section 302) and attempt to murder (Section 307) of the Indian Penal Code, besides other penal offences for his role in the encounter.
The encounter had taken place on September 19, 2008, six days after serial terror blasts rocked Delhi, killing 26 persons and injuring 135 others. The police had reached Batla House on a tip off that some suspected militants involved in the blasts were holed up in the building.
The court also charged Shahzad Ahmed under section 333 (causing hurt to public servant), 353 (assault to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of his public functions), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the IPC besides section 27 of the Arms Act.
"Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, a prima facie case for the offence under section 186/353/333/302/307 read with section 34 (common intention) IPC and section 27 of the Arms Act is made out against the accused Sahazad Ahmed.
"Since the chargesheet has also been filed against the accused for offence under section 174-A of the IPC on account of his being declared a proclaimed offender, he also needs to be charged for the said offence," ASJ Kuhar said.
The court also noted that after Shahazad fled from Batla House, he threw the revolver used by him in Gang Nahar near Bulandsehar in Uttar Pradesh.
Out of the five accused allegedly involved in this case, Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid were killed during the encounter at house number L-18, Batla House in Jamia Nagar locality in New Delhi.
Highly-decorated Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma succumbed to the bullet injuries sustained during the gun battle while head constable Balwant was injured.
Apart from these two, one Ariz Khan had been declared a proclaimed offender while Mohd Saif was not arrested as according to the prosecution case, he had surrendered and did not play any part in the entire incident.
The police team had recovered two .30 bullet pistol, one A K series rifle with two loaded magazines, containing 30 live cartridges from the spot.
According to the prosecution, Mohd Saif had disclosed that he, along with Atif and Ariz, was involved in causing the serial terror blasts here in the national capital on September 13, 2008, which claimed 26 lives and 135 persons were hurt.
Mohd Saif had told the probe agency that the two IM men, who fled from the spot during the encounter, were Ariz and Sahazad and they were active members of IM.
Shahazad, a resident of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested by UP ATS on January 1, 2010.
The prosecution had told the court that from phone call detail records of mobile number used by Atif Ameen, Shahazad's presence near Batla House was clear and the accused had also talked to his mother from the mobile on September 19.
"A prima facie case is made out against the accused (Shahazad). His presence at the spot has been established by the call details and his identification by the police officials. Thus, the participation of the accused in the commission of the offence has been fully established," the Additional Public Prosecutor, appearing for the probe agency, had said.
Defence counsel Khalil Ansari, however, argued that the offences of murder and attempt to murder are not made out against Shahazad in this case.
"In all, 24 rounds were fired by the police and eight rounds by the accused persons and the prosecution has described that four rounds were fired by Atif Ameen and another four were fired by Sajid. There is no evidence that Shahazad had fired any shot," Ansari had contended.
The court, however, rejected the defence counsel's contentions saying, "This argument is in ignorance of the principle of joint responsibility in section 34 of IPC. The facts and circumstances show the common intention shared by all the persons, including accused Sahazad."
The court also said that while framing charges, it has to have "only a prima facie case".
"The law is well settled that at the stage of charge, only a prima facie case is to be seen. At this stage, a roving inquiry into the matter to ascertain the quality of the evidence as to its fitness for conviction is not required to be done. The court, at this stage, has to see whether prima facie there are sufficient grounds for putting the accused to trial for the offence alleged against him," ASJ Kuhar said.
The police, in its chargesheet against Shahzad, Ariz Khan (absconding), Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid, have accused them of killing Inspector Sharma.