Lawyers view Kasab custody hint as an eyewash (To go with: Pakistan could seek Kasab’s custody, India rejects idea)

February 14th, 2009 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) Pakistan’s hint of seeking custody of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured during the Mumbai mayhem, has been termed an eyewash by prominent lawyers here.

Eminent criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani termed Pakistan’s hint as “absurd and childish”.

“We are sick of this stupid game played between India and Pakistan. What do they want to indicate (by hinting at Kasab’s custody)? This is absurd and not at all possible,” Jethmalani told IANS.

He further said that if Kasab was handed over to the Pakistani authorities, then other witnesses and evidence relating to the Mumabi mayhem will also have to be submitted, “which is not possible at all”.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Saturday: “If Ajmal Kasab is needed for the investigation process, then India could be asked (to hand) him over.”

“We first had to register an FIR (first information report on the Mumbai strikes). This has been done. Now, if our investigators recommend, we will ask for access to him (Kasab),” Malik added.

Kasab was one of the eight suspects named in the FIR registered by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency on the Mumbai strikes. Six of the suspects have been arrested while two are at large.

“There is no question of India handing over Kasab to Pakistan as the Mumbai court has the primary jurisdiction to try him for the terror acts committed by him,” said K.T.S. Tulsi, a former additional solicitor general, and a lawyer who deals with criminal cases.

“He committed the crime here and the FIR of the case was lodged here. So the Indian courts have the primary jurisdiction to try him. The question of handing him over to Pakistan or extraditing him (to the neighbouring country) arises only after he been tried and has served his sentence here,” Tulsi maintained.

“In fact, owing to the Mumbai court having the primary jurisdiction to try the offences committed by him, India would also be legally justified to demand his co-conspirators in Pakistan to try them here,” Tulsi added.

Lalit Bhasin, another eminent lawyer, said: “Our Indian legal system is already in motion so there is no need of handing over Kasab to the Pakistan government. He has to face the trial here in India.”

“Making this type of suggestion is just an eyewash to gain world sympathy. This is meaningless and not at all possible according to law,” Bhasin added.

Kasab is currently in the custody of the Mumbai police. More than 170 people, among them 26 foreigners, were killed in the Nov 26-29 carnage that New Delhi says was conducted by 10 terrorists who came from Pakistan. Indian security forces killed nine of the attackers after an operation that lasted for more than 60 hours.

Pakistan has also turned down an Indian demand for extraditing two commanders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group - Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah - whom New Delhi has accused of planning the Mumbai mayhem.

Pakistani security forces had arrested the duo in December 2008 during a raid on the offices of the Jamatud Daawa that the LeT had morphed into after being banned in the wake of the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament that New Delhi has blamed on the terror group.

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