The court upheld their offence under the Arms Act for possession of illegal weapons but acquitted them from IPC 122 as the same could not be sustained. While they have already been in custody for the last five years, the court held the term enough for serving under the Arms Act and directed them to be released.
A division bench, comprising Justices V G Palshikar and Nishita Mhatre, held that the prosecution could not establish the intention of waging war against the Government, though the accused were found in possession of arms and ammunition along with some Urdu literature and magazines with pictures of prominent personalities like US President George Bush and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
The court observed that the ammunition could have been collected by the accused for committing some other offence. Also, the prosecution had not gathered any evidence on record to substantiate their claim.
The court, in its order, stated that ''how the lower court judge who pronounced life term for these convicts reached a conclusion that the magazines contained objectionable material and criticised India as there is no record of the magazines having been translated.'' Advocate Shyam Marvadi, representing petitioner and accused Javed Ahmed Bhatt and three others who allegedly belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, told UNI that they were taken into custody on October 24, 2001, after the police raided their room in a chawl at Mumbra in the neighbouring Thane district.
In the raid, the police seized five issues of 'Meantime' magazine, two Urdu periodicals, two pistols, one country-made revolver, 26 cartridges, two diaries, a camera and a digital diary.
The court remarked that the prosecution seemed overawed by its own claim that the accused belonged to a terrorist group, but failed to establish the same through corroborative evidence.
UNI ARM SSS PDM KN2130