- Press Release issued by Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association (JTSA) on 31st July, 2013
Calling the verdict by a Delhi court holding Shahzad Ahmad guilty of murder and many other offences in controversial Batla House encounter case as “perverse and a mockery of justice” , the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA) has expressed shock over the flagrant violation of settled principles of criminal jurisprudence in the case.
Releasing analysis of the judgment entitled “Beyond Reasonable Doubt? The Conviction of Shahzad Ahmad”, here on Wednesday, Manisha Sethi, President of JTSA, said that the judgment assumes the facts that were required to have been examined by the court as to whether the prosecution had proved them or not, and projects these assumptions as “findings”.
“Beyond Reasonable Doubt? The Conviction of Shahzad Ahmad” is a point-by-point critique of the judgement of the Additional Session Judge Rajinder Kumar Shastri. The report also contains photographs and sketches to explain its objections on the findings of the judgement.
|Press conference by JTSA on 31st July. Photo: Mukul Dube|
Commenting on theory of escape of accused Shahzad Ahmad propounded by the judgement, Manisha Sethi said that the police had claimed that two terrorists managed to escape from the flat while opening fire on the police, the court comes up with completely new story, purely on the basis of conjectures.
“Forgetting even the basic legal principle that prosecution must prove its case in the manner alleged, the court speculates that these two persons might have taken shelter in some other flat and then escaped posing as local residents.”, Manisha Sethi said.
Elaborating on the impossibility of any person escaping from L-18 building, the site of alleged encounter, Manisha Sethi asked, “Flat No. 108, measuring 70 sq yards, is on the fourth floor in the rear portion of L-18, Batla House. According to the police, a team of seven members entered to apprehend its occupants. Police claimed that two ‘terrorists’, one of whom is the accused Shahzad Ahmad, escaped from the front, unlocking the double iron and wooden doors whilst firing at the police.
“Is it plausible that two persons escape from a 70 sq yard flat situated on fourth floor of building when seven policemen have already entered and many other police men have secured the only exit that the building had?, Manisha Sethi asked.
She said, “The conclusions of the Court in this case are mere wish fulfillments rather than based upon any realistic assessment of the sequence of events and evidence available on record.”
She lamented that the court rejected application of the Shahzad Ahmad to visit the building to take a firsthand look of the site.
Addressing the media persons, Satish Tamta, lawyer of Shahzad Ahmad, said that the conviction of Shahzad Ahamd was based upon presumptions and assumptions and not on the basis of appreciation of evidence.
Satish Tamta said that the prosecution was required to prove that the police party was fired upon by the occupants of the flat no. 108 in L-18, Batla House, and the police fired upon them in self defence, Shahzad Ahmad was present there and shared common intention with other others firing upon the police, none of them was proved in court beyond reasonable doubt.
He further said that the prosecution did not explain the injuries on the bodies of Atif and Sajid who were killed by the police allegedly acting in self-defence. The plea of self-defence was simply assumed by court, though, the prosecution did not even bother to prove before it.
The post-mortem reports of Atif and Sajid, presented before the court showed that almost all entry wounds of bullets on the body of Atif were on the backside which showed that he was repeatedly shot from behind. Similarly, entry points of all of the gun shot injuries received by Sajid strongly suggested that he was held down by force while bullets were pumped down. Besides, bodies of Atif and Sajid also had many non-gunshot injuries as well.
“In the absence of explanation of the injuries on the body of Atif and Sajid, the plea of self-defence could not have been believed but the judgment brushed aside these points by conjecture”, Tamta said.
Terming acceptance of communal explanation of the Additional Public Prosecutor for not involving public witnesses as they belonged to the same religion as “dangerous”, Sanghamitra Misra, Joint Secretary of JTSA, said that this has lowered prestige of the judiciary. “It also reflects the institutional bias afflicting the police, prosecution which tend to stereotype Muslims as “terrorist” or “sympathisers of terrorists”. Sanghamitra said.
Tanweer Fazal, another prominent member of the JTSA, pointed out that the court has brushed aside the significance of the failure of the prosecution to prove that Shahzad was a member of Indian Mujahideen saying that it did not make a difference. “It is surprising that the police, which use name of Indian Mujahideen for propaganda in the media, does not even bother to provide evidence in court”, he said.
“Beyond Reasonable Doubt? The Conviction of Shahzad Ahmad”, the detailed report that was released in the press conference by JTSA can be read here. (Link courtesy: Shuddhabrata Sengupta)