Criminal law expert Tahilyani to conduct Mumbai attacks’ trial

January 13th, 2009 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Jan 13 (IANS) Noted criminal expert M.L. Tahilyani has been appointed to try Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist nabbed alive during the Mumbai terror attacks, a law department official said here Tuesday.Tahilyani, a former CBI court judge, had shot to fame when he conducted the trial in the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar. He is currently a registrar in the Bombay High Court.

Last month, the state government had appointed Ujjwal Nikam as the public prosecutor in the Kasab case. Nikam served as the public prosecutor in the March 1993 serial bomb blasts case and among many others, secured the conviction of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt under the Arms Act for illegally procuring an AK-47 rifle. Dutt’s appeal against this is being heard in the Supreme Court.

Later this month, police are expected to file the charge sheet in the 12 cases filed against Kasab, who is presently under police custody.

The charge sheet will be filed as per the commitment made by Home Minister Jayant Patil in the state legislature last month. He announced that the investigations into the case will be complete and the charge sheet will be filed before Republic Day Jan 26.

However, since Jan 26 is a Monday and is preceded by two holidays, the police may file the charge sheet anytime before Jan 24, the official said.

After the charges are filed before a magistrate, he will assign the case to the sessions court Tahilyani will preside over.

Later, Kasab would be given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against him. If he pleads guilty, there could be no trial and a verdict would be pronounced.

However, as is usually the case, if Kasab pleads not guilty, it would result in a trial, the date for which will be announced later, the official said.

Recently, Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Rakesh Maria had said the trial is likely to be conducted within the precincts of the high security Arthur Road Jail, which was the venue of the trial of the March 1993 serial blasts case.

What is not yet clear is who will defend Kasab during the trial. While Mumbai lawyers have refused to take up his case, Kasab has demanded that a Pakistani lawyer should defend him.

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