Lone convict in the 2010 Pune German Bakery blast, Himayat Baig today complained to the Bombay High Court he was not properly defended in the lower court and sought for suspension of hearing into his appeal against the death penalty until NIA completes its probe.
Baig's advocate Mehmood Pracha informed a bench of Justices V K Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar that his client has raised grievances that he was not defended properly in the Pune sessions court which convicted him and awarded him the death penalty.
The bench today commenced hearing in the appeal filed by Baig against the conviction and the confirmation petition.
Baig, who was produced in the court via video conference from the Arthur Road prison in the morning, sought to be produced in person before the court. Following this, the bench directed for him to be produced in court in the afternoon.
"Baig told me that the Pune bar association had passed a resolution that no lawyer would take his case up as protest. However, one lawyer said he would defend Baig as pity. Later during trial one of officers from ATS told Baig that his lawyer was a very good friend and hence Baig feels that he was not defended fairly," Pracha told the court.
Pracha further argued that while the ATS probed the case initially the NIA later took over this case including several other blast cases like the Malegaon 2006 and 2008, Samjhauta and so on.
"In four cases the NIA has negated the findings of the ATS. Accused persons arrested by ATS in the 2006 Malegaon blast case have been now released on bail after NIA said that they were innocent," Pracha said.
The advocate, hence, sought the high court not to hear Baig's case until NIA completes its investigation. "What if tomorrow the NIA says that Baig was not involved? It should not be too late by then," Pracha said.
Baig also complained to the court about headaches due to poor eyesight and throat problems. The court directed the jail superintendent to get Baig medically tested and provide necessary treatment.
On February 13, 2010 a bomb exploded inside the bakery killing 17 persons including five foreigners and injuring 58 others.
In April this year, the sessions court in Pune awarded death penalty to Baig observing that it was a rarest of rare case.
Baig was convicted under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Explosives Act.
According to the chargesheet filed by the ATS, five others accused - Fayyaz Kagzi, Yasin Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Riyaz Bhatkal and Mohsin Chaudhari - are still absconding.
During the final hearing the court is also likely to consider an application filed by NIA, which took over the blast case at a later stage, seeking a direction to the ATS to provide them a copy of the CCTV footage from inside the bakery to ascertain the identity of the person who planted the bomb.
The court had last week refused to pass an order directing the ATS to submit the CCTV footage and said it would consider the application at a later stage during final hearing.