New Delhi: India has proposed to host a Pakistani judicial commission, which will cross-examine key witnesses in the Mumbai terror attacks case, after September 19, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said on Wednesday.
Shinde said due to the ongoing 'Ganesh Chaturthi', which is the biggest festival in Maharashtra, India has requested Pakistan to postpone the visit of the panel till September 19. Initially, India and Pakistan had agreed for the second visit of the Pakistani judicial commission on September 7. But later Pakistan had put off the visit at the eleventh hour and proposed September 11 as the fresh date for its trip.
However, New Delhi has declined to entertain the request citing the 'Ganesh Chaturthi' festival in Maharashtra as the panel would visit Mumbai to cross examine the 26/11 case witnesses.
The witnesses are metropolitan magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant-Waghule, who recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, chief investigating officer Ramesh Mahale and two doctors from the state-run Nair and JJ Hospitals who had conducted autopsies of nine terrorists.
Seven terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, were charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 that killed 166 people and their trial was going on in a Rawalpindi court.
India has sought an early conclusion of the trial, which, it feels, is going at a very slow pace in Pakistan.
India has already given a written assurance to Pakistan that the legal panel of that country will be allowed to cross examine the witnesses when it visits Mumbai.
The findings of the first Pakistani judicial commission that visited India in March 2012 were rejected by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan as the panel's members were not allowed to cross-examine the Indian witnesses.
After the judicial panel visits India and cross examines the four witnesses, Islamabad is expected to reciprocate by granting an Indian judicial commission access to Pakistani suspects when it visits the country at a later stage.
The trial of the Pakistani suspects has made little or no headway for months due to various technical and legal issues. The Lahore High Court has barred the anti-terrorism court from using 26/11 terrorist Azmal Amir Kasab's confession, which was taken before he was hanged, while defence lawyers have contended that existing Pakistani laws do not allow witnesses in another country to depose via video-conferencing.