In an ironic coincidence on 16 May 2014, alongside the electoral verdict, the Supreme Court too delivered its verdict on Akshardham Temple Terror Attack case (of Gujarat, September 2002), acquitting all the six accused including three who were sentenced to death by a lower court, and slamming the Gujarat Police for framing innocents.
Acquitting all the six convicts, the judgment said: “We intend to express our anguish about the incompetence with which the investigating agencies conducted the investigation of the case of such a grievous nature, involving the integrity and security of the nation.”
“Instead of booking the real culprits responsible for taking so many precious lives, police caught innocent people and got imposed the grievous charges against them which resulted in their conviction and subsequent sentencing,”
The Supreme Court in its judgement categorically slammed the then Gujarat home minister – today, Prime Minister of India – for “non-application of mind” and failure to verify the criteria for granting sanction to prosecute the 6 under POTA.
The verdict says, “We intend to take note of the perversity in conducting this case at various stages, right from the investigation level to the granting of sanction by the state government to prosecute the accused persons under POTA, the conviction and awarding of sentence to the accused persons by the Special Court (POTA) and confirmation of the same by the High Court. We, being the apex court cannot afford to sit with folded hands when such gross violation of fundamental rights and basic human rights of the citizens of this country were presented before us.”
The verdict notes that for a year after the Akshardham attack, “the ATS was shooting in the dark for about a year without any result. No trace of the people associated with this heinous attack on the Akshardham temple could be found by the police.” The verdict notes that “Then on the morning of 28.03.2003, the case is transferred to Crime Branch, Ahmedabad. This was followed by D.G. Vanzara giving instructions to the then-ACP G.S. Singhal (PW-126) about one Ashfaq Bhavnagri (PW-50). PW-126 was thereafter made in charge of the case on the same evening at 6:30 p.m. and the statement of PW-50 was recorded at 8 p.m., i.e within one and a half hours.” On 29.08.2003, 5 of the accused were arrested, and the next day, POTA was invoked.