7/11 Mumbai Train Blasts: Hearings To Get Derailed After Justice Sambre’s Transfer

7/11 Mumbai Train Blasts: Hearings To Get Derailed After Justice Sambre’s Transfer

On July 11, 2006, RDX blasts at seven locations on the suburban rail network of Mumbai in a span of 11 minutes had claimed 189 lives and injured 800.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, November 26, 2023, 10:29 PM IST
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7/11 Mumbai Train Blasts: Hearings To Get Derailed After Justice Sambre’s Transfer | PTI File Photo

A little over a month after regular hearings commenced in the July 11, 2006, serial train blasts case, known as 7/11 Mumbai train blasts case, the trial is likely to get derailed with the transfer of Justice Nitin Sambre to the Nagpur bench of the high court as a senior administrative judge.

Justice Sambre will take charge at the Nagpur bench on December 1. He was appointed as HC judge on January 6, 2014, and is due to retire on December 18, 2029.

Hearing Proceedings Under Justice Sambre

From October, a bench of Justices Sambre and Rajesh Patil had started hearing the death confirmations of four accused and appeals by the convicts against their convictions. On September 8, Justice Sambre while fixing October 5 as the date to commence day-to-day hearings in the case, clarified that it will not grant any adjournments in the hearings once it starts. The high court had started hearing the case eight years after the special court awarded the death penalty to five people.

Background of the 7/11 Mumbai Train Blasts

On July 11, 2006, RDX blasts at seven locations on the suburban rail network of Mumbai in a span of 11 minutes had claimed 189 lives and injured 800.

In September 2015, the special MCOCA court had awarded death sentences to five convicts and life imprisonment to seven others. A death sentence awarded by the trial court has to be confirmed by the HC.

State Government's Approach to the High Court

Soon, the state government approached the HC seeking confirmation of the death sentence of four convicts – Mohammad Faisal Shaikh, Ehtesham Siddiqui, Naveed Hussain Khan and Asif Khan. They also filed an appeal challenging the verdict. The fifth convict, Kamal Ahamed Ansari, died of Covid-19 in Nagpur Prison in 2022. So the case against him stands abated.

The other seven – Tanvir Ahmed Ansari, Mohammad Majid Shafi, Shaikh Alam Shaikh, Mohd Sajid Ansari, Muzzammil Shaikh, Soheil Mehmood Shaikh and Zamir Ahmad Shaikh – have also approached the HC, challenging their life term.

Legal Proceedings and Challenges

Since 2015, the confirmation pleas and appeals have come up for hearing before nine different benches. However, they have not been heard. It was last listed before a division bench of Justices Ajey Gadkari and PD Naik, which recused itself from hearing the case.

Special public prosecutor Raja Thakare had informed the HC in January 2022 that 191 prosecution witnesses and 51 defence witnesses were examined before the special court. Besides, there are 179 volumes of papers. Both the prosecution and the defence will have to re-read all the evidence before the HC for deciding the appeals in the case.

Chief Justice's Intervention

Defence counsel Yug Chaudhri too had said that the evidence was voluminous and he would take three months to present his evidence before the court.

Due to voluminous evidence in the case, the prosecution and the defence counsels had also approached then Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Dipankar Datta requesting to constitute a special bench to hear the 7/11 train blasts case of 2006.

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