"Are So Many Witnesses Really Needed?" Supreme Court Asks Probe Agencies

The Supreme Court, which was dealing with a case related to the 2008 Gujarat blasts, noticed that the prosecution named over 1,500 witnesses.

'Are So Many Witnesses Really Needed?' Supreme Court Asks Probe Agencies

The Supreme Court asked why the prosecution always believed in having so many witnesses

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has wondered as to why investigating agencies "always believe in quantity" and make hundreds of prosecution witnesses to prove their charges before the court of law.

The top court, which was dealing with a case related to the 2008 Gujarat serial blasts, noticed that the prosecution has named over 1,500 witnesses in the matter.

"Why do you (prosecuting agencies) always believe in quantity? In every case, there are 100-200 prosecution witnesses. Yesterday, there was an accident case in which no eye-witness was there but around 200 prosecution witnesses were named. We really wonder why so many witnesses are made," a bench comprising justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.

The general oral observations were made during the hearing on the bail plea of some of the alleged members of banned outfit Indian Mujaheedin (IM), who are facing trial in the 2008 serials blasts case.

56 people were killed and over 220 injured in as many as 21 explosions in Ahmedabad in Gujarat within the span of one hour.

The bench was informed that in the blasts case, which was probed by the Gujarat Police, around 930 prosecution witnesses were already examined by the trial court while several others were yet to be examined.

The Supreme Court also asked Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Gujarat Police, as to whether so many prosecution witnesses were "really required" to be examined in the case.

Mr Mehta said the police have themselves dropped 257 witnesses in the case but 175 "core witnesses" were required to be examined.

He said a series of blasts had rocked Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008 while 15 more bombs were found and defused in Surat.

Mr Mehta said there were above 90 accused in the case out of which 84 were arrested and 10 were absconding.

He said out of the 84 arrested accused, only two have got bail while the rest were in jail.

Meanwhile, the counsel appearing for the accused said that so far, 931 prosecution witnesses have been examined and none of them has said anything against the accused who were seeking bail.

The lawyer also said a trial court in Rajasthan has already acquitted these accused in a separate case where similar kind of allegations, including that they had allegedly went to terrorist camps for training, were levelled.

However, when the bench asked Mr Mehta about the verdict of the Rajasthan court, the ASG said he would ascertain the facts and get back to the court.

The ASG told the bench there were allegations against these accused that they were earlier members of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), but after this outfit was banned by the government, they joined the IM.

He said trial in the case was at a "crucial stage" and as per their estimate, it would take another 15 months to complete.

The bench has listed the matter for hearing on May 3 after the ASG said he would get some instructions in the matter.

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