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Published On: Mon, Apr 16th, 2018

Mecca Masjid blast case judge resigns after verdict

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Ravinder ReddyHYDERABAD/NEW DELHI:  : Hours after delivering the verdict in the  sensational Mecca Masjid blast case acquitting five accused, the NIA special court judge Ravinder Reddy has resigned. He sent his resignation letter to High Court Chief Judge.
He is said to have cited ‘personal reasons ‘ as grounds for his resignation. He is said to have asked the CJ of Hyderabad to relieve him immediately or grant him 15 days leave.The judge had acquitted all the accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case, including Swami Aseemanand, citing lack of evidence earlier today.

It took a few minutes for the 11-year-old case to come crashing down as a court said the country’s top anti-terror body, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), had failed to prove anyone’s guilt. The NIA officer in charge of the case, Pratibha Ambedkar, was abruptly removed two weeks ago. aseemanand-acquitted-pti-650_650x400_71523882539
A powerful blast, triggered by remote control, had ripped through the over four-century-old mosque on May 18, 2007, when devotees had gathered for Friday prayers, killing nine and wounding 58.

The case was initially probed by local police before being transferred to CBI, and finally in 2011 to the NIA, the country’s premier anti-terror investigation agency. Five of the accused — Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Devendra Gupta, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary — were arrested in the case.Two other accused — Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra — are absconding while another accused Sunil Joshi had died. Investigations were continuing against two other accused.

Ravinder Reddy is the fourth metropolitan sessions judge at Nampally court and is incharge of the NIA court. Earlier in the day, he delivered the judgment acquitting all the accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case.
Ravinder Reddy was due to retire in June. His decision to quit two months before retirement led to variety of speculation in the judicial circles. After his announcement, fellow judicial officers rushed to his chambers where they all stayed till late in the evening.
Ravinder Reddy is also leader of the Telangana judicial officers association.Many ruled out the theory of him being upset with the reactions on verdict.
According to sources the High Court has been enquiring into a complaint of unusual interest shown by Ravinder Reddy as incharge of another court for one day, when the regular judge was on leave. He had granted bail to an accused, contrary to the practice of adjourning the matters to some other day and leaving it to the regular judge to take a call.
While Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) party president Asaduddin Owaisi has asked the Telangana government to challenge the verdict in the higher court, the BJP welcomed the judgment and demanded an apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the UPA government’s evil design to tarnish the image of Hindutva organisations by projecting him as terror groups.

During the agitation for a separate Telangana State, lawyers and some judicial officers had joined the movement. Mr. Reddy was among 11 judicial officers suspended then. After formation of the State, he took out a procession from Abids to Raj Bhavan over bifurcation of the Hyderabad High Court and allotment of judges to the two Telugu States.

:Ten people allegedly belonging to right wing organisations were named as the accused in the case. One of them, Sunil Joshi of Madhya Pradesh, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member like Aseemanand, was murdered while the case was being investigated.
NIA alleged that they had been falsely charged, illegally confined and tortured.The CBI in 2010 said Hindu right wing group Abhinav Bharat was behind the blast. According to the chargesheet, the accused were “angered by terrorist attacks committed on Hindus and their temples” and wanted to “avenge” them by attacking Muslim areas and places of worship.Aseemanand was arrested by the CBI in 2010.
The chargesheet said he made a confessional statement before a magistrate in Delhi and disclosed the conspiracy behind the bomb blasts in different places, including Mecca Masjid. Aseemanand allegedly retracted the statement later.The “confession” was among the documents that were reported missing last month from the Tis Hazari court in Delhi.
Last year, Aseemanand was acquitted in the Ajmer Dargah blast case and also got bail in the Samjhauta Express blast case of 2014.
(With Agency Inputs).

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