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Nov 22, 2012 at 07:57pm IST

1996 Lajpat Nagar blast case: Delhi HC acquits two convicts with death penalty

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday acquitted two alleged Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front militants of all the charges in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar blast case. The duo - Mohd Ali Bhatt alias Kille and Mirza Nissar Hussain - were given death penalty for their alleged involvement in the blast case by a lower court.

The Delhi High Court also commuted the death sentence of another convict Mohd Naushad to life imprisonment. The court, however, upheld the life sentence of the fourth convict Javed Ahmad Khan alias Chotta Javed.

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The court gave its verdict, rebuking the Delhi Police for its failure to adduce even "the minimum standard of proof" and saying that "it has shown casual approach in the case."

"Police has not maintained minimum standard of probe in the case, Test Identification Parade was not conducted, statement of vital witnesses were not recorded. There was also absence of 'Delhi Diary' entry in the case," a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhatt and GP Mittal said.

A JKIF team had set off a very high intenstity blast at Lajpat Nagar market in south Delhi on May 21, 1996, triggering it in explosives kept in a stolen Maruti car in the market. Thirteen people were killed and 39 others were injured in the blast.

A city court had in April 2010 convicted six alleged JKIF militants, awarding death sentence to Mohd Naushad, Mohd Ali Bhatt and Mirza Nissar Hussain while their fourth accomplice Javed Ahmed Khan was sentenced to life imprisonment. The remaining two convicts, Farooq Ahmed Khan and his woman accomplice Farida Dar, who had been held guilty for offences under the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act, were sentenced to imprisonment for seven years and four years and two months respectively.

The high court had been hearing the appeals of the four - Naushad, Ali Bhatt, Mirza Nissar Hussain and Javed Ahmed Khan - against their conviction and sentencing by the trial court.

(With additional information from PTI)