26/11: Pakistani judicial team to visit India in November


The Pakistani judicial commission will visit India in November to probe the 26/11 attacks case.
Bringing the 26/11 Mumbai attacks perpetrators to justice has always topped the discussion each time Indian and Pakistani leaders have met.
After President Asif Ali Zardari said his government was committed to bringing the accused to justice, the ball has been sent back to India’s court. The judicial commission from Pakistan will now visit India in November and carry out cross-examination of witnesses before it submits its report to a court in the country, according to Rediff.com.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai had recently said they had taken a positive view of the request by Pakistan to examine India’s 26/11 witnesses, but also added that they would need to seek clarification from the Bombay High Court whether examination of witnesses by an alien government agency was possible.
While India has not yet sought any clarification from the Bombay High Court, sources said the Pakistani judicial commission would be in India to cross-examine the witnesses, which included the investigating officer who arrested the lone surviving Lashkar-e-Tayyaba gunman Ajmal Kasab, the additional chief metropolitan magistrate, and the two doctors who examined Kasab after he had been captured.
Ujwal Nikam, the special public prosecutor in the 26/11 case, told Rediff.com that the matter was entirely up to the government.
“There has not been any move so far to seek a clarification before the Bombay High Court. Moreover, there is no bar as such on cross-examining the witnesses provided the government of India does not have a problem with it. The prosecution in India would not have any objection if there is a cross-examination of this nature,” Nikam said.
Ejaz Naqvi, the advocate who defended another accused, Sabahuddin Ahmed, said the cross-examination would take place in November. The commission would be visiting India and would first seek formal permission from the chief metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai before the testimonies could be recorded.
“The question of seeking clarifications before the Bombay High Court would not arise as there is no bar on such examinations provided both countries have agreed to the same. If India feels that it would help speed up the process against the accused in Pakistan by allowing such a cross-examination, it is in India’s best interest,” Naqvi said.
Justice Santosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court, too pointed out that there was no bar on such cross-examination.
The commission would only examine the witnesses and report back to the court which was hearing the case in Pakistan, he noted.
Earlier, India had apprehensions about such an exercise as it felt Pakistan would reject the evidence that had been dished out by Indian investigators. Moreover, there was also a hue and cry in Pakistan regarding the same, with one of the defence counsels, Malik Rafique, saying the credibility of the Indian prosecution was suspicious, as the trial was one-sided.