The judge who pronounced the verdict in the Mecca Masjid blast case in the morning on Monday resigned from his position by evening triggering a sensational development.
Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) judge Ravinder Reddy reportedly submitted his resignation to the Chief Justice of Telangana. According to reports, the judge had sought 10 days leave before tendering his resignation.
At the time of writing, there was no information on whether his resignation has been accepted or not.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, however, took to Twitter to express his surprise at the development.
“Judge who gave acquittal to all accused in Mecca Masjid Blast RESIGNS very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship decision,” he wrote.
Judge who gave acquittal to all accused in Mecca Masjid Blast RESIGNS very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship decision
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) April 16, 2018
Earlier on Monday, the special NIA court had acquitted all five accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case. The court in Hyderabad’s Nampally cited lack of evidence as the reason behind the acquittal.
On 18 May 2007, a pipe-bomb exploded at the Mecca Masjid near Charminar in Hyderabad during Friday prayers killing 9 and injuring 58 others.
Ten people allegedly belonging to right-wing organisations were named as accused in the case. However, only five of them — Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary — were arrested and faced trial.
Two other accused — Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra — are absconding while another accused Sunil Joshi died. Investigations were continuing against two other accused.
The court said that the prosecution failed to prove any of the charges against the accused in the incident.
Aseemanand had confessed his involvement in the blast before the court but later retracted his ‘confession’ alleging that he was coerced by the ATS (Anti-Terror Squad).
The NIA took over the case on 7 April 2011.
Lt Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, a witness in the Mecca Masjid blast case, turned hostile on 15 February 2018 along with 64 others. The Lt Col, himself an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, said that his statement was never recorded. He had been granted bail in the Malegaon blast case in August 2017 by the Supreme Court.
Owaisi had on Monday slammed the NIA for “not pursuing the case” and alleged that the elite investigation agency was not allowed to do so by the “political masters”. He said that justice had not been done to the deceased in the case.
“NIA is a deaf & blind TOTA they didn’t appeal against bail given to accused ,witness turned hostile after June 2014 IO couldn’t give proper statement so everything was done to fail the victims upshot is our fight against terrorism is weakened after Today’s acquittals,” he wrote in one of his three tweets following the verdict.
Reacting to the verdict, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rebuked the Congress for coining the ‘Hindu terror’ and demanded an apology from party’s president Rahul Gandhi.
Stating that the BJP does not comment on the judgment of the court or working of Indian judiciary, Patra asked how the Congress was labelling today’s verdict as wrong when they were celebrating the court verdict in the 2G scam case.
“I want to question the Congress. Will Rahul Gandhi, at the stroke of midnight, come out with a candle at India Gate and apologise?” asked Patra as he accused the party of trying to demean Hindus and Hinduism for votes.