Mumbai: Ujjwal Nikam, special public prosecutor in several sensitive and high profile trials such as the 1993 Bombay blasts, the Shakti Mills gangrape case, 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, on Wednesday in an interview to The Free Press Journal, said that the time frame stipulated in the Shakti Bill tabled on Monday before the state legislature to complete probe in crimes against women is “too short”.
Asked if the time-frame of 30-days to conduct a trial was practically feasible, he said, while appreciating the intention of the government behind the Bill, that it is a question how the prosecution would do that.
One of the key plotters of the 26/11 attacks Tahawwur Rana’s extradition hearing is scheduled in a US court next month. The court has on Monday denied bail to Rana while his extradition hearing is pending noting that he is a “flight risk” as he could anticipate a death penalty in India if extradited. The court, however, also made the observation that the weight of the evidence produced before it with regard to murder and conspiracy charges in the Mumbai terror attack against Rana is “far less conclusive” and “not overwhelming” compared to lesser charges of forgery.
Asked if there is strong evidence against Rana to prove charges if he is extradited, Nikam said that NIA is investigating the case and the evidence against him by David Headley, an American of Pakistani origin, serving 35 years in a US prison for his role in the 26/11 attack, is on record in a Mumbai court. “Prima facie we have a good case against Tahawwur Rana,” he said.
Regarding the real plotters of the 26/11 terror attack - Hafiz Saeed and Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi and the of 1993 blasts - Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon among others being out of reach so many years after the incidents, Nikam said that Pakistan is sheltering them and since we have no extradition treaty with Pakistan, nothing can be done. “But I am glad we could expose the real face of Pakistan in the 26/11 trial. We could convince the globe that Pakistan perpetrated the terror attack,” he said.
On the issue of the best minds in the legal field being disproportionately on the defence side, he said that if the government wants the best legal minds to be prosecutors, it must provide them logistics, infrastructure and timely payments.