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Ahmedabad blast: SC says no to trial outside Gujarat

Thursday July 07, 2011 08:12:30 AM, IANS

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday declined the petitions of the 64 accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad-Surat serial blasts case seeking transfer of the trial outside Gujarat.

The petitioners contended that the atmosphere in the state was too surcharged for a free and fair trial. They referred to certain incidents, saying the trial against them would not be free of bias.

The apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Cyriac Joseph, while disposing the petitions, said the atmosphere in Gujarat was no longer surcharged and there was no apprehension of bias obstructing a free and fair trial.

Justice Kabir said: "The offences with which the accused have been charged are of a very serious nature, but except for an apprehension that justice would not be properly administered, there is little else to suggest that the charged atmosphere which existed at the time when the offences were alleged to have been committed, still exist and was likely to prejudice the accused during the trial."

"As mentioned earlier, the communally surcharged atmosphere which existed at the time of the alleged incidents, has settled down considerably and is no longer as volatile as it was previously," the judgment read.

The court ruled that there were no grounds for the transfer of the trial outside the state.

The judges said that though the ground of free and fair trial was of great importance but it could not be the only aspect to be considered while deciding whether a criminal trial could be transferred out of a state.

The court said if there were any new incidents giving rise to apprehensions of real obstruction to free and fair trial, the petitioners could again approach it.

"The golden thread which runs through all the decisions cited on behalf of the parties, is that justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done," the judgment said.

"If the said principle is disturbed, fresh steps can always be taken under Section 406 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Supreme Court Rules, 1966 for the same relief," the court said.

A series of 16 synchronised bombings ripped through Gujarat's main city of Ahmedabad July 26, 2008, killing over 50 people and injuring many more. Nearly 20 bombs were recovered in Surat before they could go off.









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