Seven RDX bombs had exploded in the first class coaches of many suburban trains in Mumbai on July 11, 2006, killing 188 people and injuring 829.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to file an affidavit stating that it did not submit any report to the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2009 seeking review of the evidence against 2006 Mumbai train blasts accused. The CIC was deciding the plea of Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddiqui who has been convicted in the blasts and is on death row. Seven RDX bombs had exploded in the first class coaches of many suburban trains in Mumbai on July 11, 2006, killing 188 people and injuring 829.
The charge sheet filed by Anti-Terrorism Squad in November 2006 had named 30 accused, including 17 absconders. A special court had convicted 12, mostly members of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), on September 30, 2015, and acquitted one. Among the 12, five were sentenced to death, while the others were awarded life imprisonment. Siddique used the Right to Information Act to seek the IB report which reportedly brought forth new material, suggesting that the blasts were handiwork of Indian Mujahideen and not the accused SIMI members.
The IB rejected his application on the grounds that it has been exempted from the ambit of the Right to Information. This position was also supported by the CIC in its 2018 order. However, Siddique challenged the CIC order in the Delhi High Court which rejected the contention of the IB and the CIC. “The gravamen of his allegation is that he has been falsely implicated by the respondent despite the respondent having information that the petitioner was not involved in the July 11, 2006, blast case. This court is of the view that the said conclusion is erroneous, as the information does relate to violation of human rights,” Justice Vibhu Bakhru had said.
He ordered the CIC to have a fresh look at the case. “There can be no dispute that the human rights would include life and liberty. It is the petitioner’s case that he is deprived of his liberty on the basis of false evidence and the information available in the report placed before the Home Minister would indicate the same,” the judge had said. The CIC again heard both the parties wherein the IB took the position that it did not submit any such report seeking review of evidence in the Mumbai blasts case to the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2009.
Presenting his side, Siddique said the blast had killed more than 200 people and over 900 were injured, however, the real accused had gone unpunished and innocent people like him had been sentenced to death and therefore, by letting the actual criminals go free, national security had been jeopardised. He said an exhaustive piece published in a leading newspaper by a noted journalist had stated that such a report was submitted by the IB to the MHA. The report cited by Siddique was published on February 25, 2017, two years after his conviction, in The Indian Express.
It stated that a confidential dossier prepared by the Andhra Pradesh Police’s OCTOPUS counter-terrorism cell said the attack was carried out by the Indian Mujahideen and not the accused charged for the crime. Quoting three unidentified senior IB officials, the report had said that the then home minister and officials of the ministry had been “made aware of new evidence”.
After Siddique’s submissions to the CIC, the IB sought more time to furnish further details, which was granted by Chief Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava. In the next hearing, the IB reiterated its position that it had not submitted any report to the ministry suggesting review of evidence in 2006 Mumbai train blasts.
“The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, directs the respondent to file an affidavit with the Commission deposing that no such Intelligence Bureau report was submitted to the MHA in year 2009 as sought by the appellant in his RTI application. Hence, no information can be provided to the appellant,” Bhargava said.