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26/11 trial: Nikam lands in controversy

December 21, 2009 23:32 IST

Prosecuting lawyer Ujwal Nikam on Monday courted controversy for his alleged remark that a former Union minister had put pressure on him to speed up the Mumbai attack trial for electoral gains and the state government has been directed to make a statement on Tuesday itself.

Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil asked the government to make the statement on Tuesday after the high-profile Special Public Prosecutor's alleged remark kicked up dust in the assembly.

Nikam is alleged to have said he was asked to file 12 separate chargesheets in the trial against the lone surviving Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab to seek quick verdict in each case.

Raising the issue in the House, Opposition Leader Eknath Khadse, Sena Group Leader Subhash Desai and MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said Nikam in his recent public speech accused a former Central minister of putting pressure to finish the on-going trial against Kasab before the Lok Sabha elections in April-May this year.

Nikam allegedly made the remarks at a seminar on trial against terrorists at Latur district two days back.

The prosecutor on Sunday denied that he had said pressure was put on him to file separate chargesheets. He said there was no such pressure on him or the prosecution and that he had been quoted out of context.

Opposition members wanted to know who is the minister concerned in the previous UPA regime who allegedly mounted pressure on Nikam for a speedy conclusion of trial in the November 26 attack last year. The trial started in March.

They wanted the Speaker to adjourn the House on the issue. But the Speaker rejected the demand and directed the state Government to make a detailed statement on Tuesday.

Nikam had on Sunday dubbed as 'incorrect' reports that there was pressure from a Central minister to file 12 separate chargesheets in the 26/11 trial against Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab and two other accused.

"There was no such pressure from any quarter and I have been quoted out of context," Nikam told PTI.

Nikam addressed a seminar at Latur on 'Terrorism and Human Rights' where he and other speakers emphasised on expeditious hearing of the trial.

The prosecutor said he told the gathering that government had suggested the investigating agency file separate chargesheets in twelve cases against Kasab and others so that verdict in each of them could be delivered early.

The suggestion was made looking into the "bad experience" of filing a single chargesheet in the 1993 bomb blast cases, which took 14 years to deliver the justice, he said.

"But I convinced the authorities that it would be more prudent to club all charges and file a single chargesheet in the trial. My suggestion was accepted and there was no pressure on us," Nikam clarified.

Nikam said Kasab's trial is a landmark example of finishing trial within seven months.

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