New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday acquitted all 11 people convicted of January and April 1993 bomb blasts in Gujarat’s Surat in which an eight-year-old boy was killed and many people were injured.
A bench of Justice T S Thakur and Justice C Nagappan said: “The requirement of a mandatory statutory provision having been violated, the trial and conviction of the petitioners for offences under the (now repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) TADA must be held to have been vitiated on that account.”
The investigating agency did not take permission of the district police chief before recording information for offences under TADA which was mandatory and could not be waived, the court said in its judgment.
“The question is whether the power of approval vested in the district superintendent of police could be exercised by the government or the additional police commissioner, Surat, in the instant case. Our answer is in the negative,” said Justice Thakur.
The court said the exercise of authority vested in the district superintendent of police by any authority higher in rank or lower is “legally impermissible”.
In both cases, police invoked TADA but later withdrew after TADA review committee said so. However, they were reinserted at the instance of police at a later stage.
The contention of the Gujarat government was that initially when TADA was invoked, there was no provision in the anti-terror law that mandated prior approval of the district superintendent of police and this provision was inserted later.