Bobde suggests common terrorism court for South Asia

United Nations: Indian Supreme Court justice S.A. Bobde has suggested setting up a common court for South Asia, with judges from all the regional countries to try cross-border terrorism cases.

"Could we consider having a court, a common court, for these countries which comprises of judges from all countries which share the matter,?" he asked at a briefing of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee on Thursday.

He added that he would "seriously recommend" that the conference, which had Supreme Court judges from all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries except the Maldives, consider the suggestion.

A SAARC court "will elevate the entire problem of sharing of knowledge and cross-border issues", he added.

Since terrorism had cross-border links, Bobde said: "If we could have judges from these countries on a common court, I think it would help a great deal. The prosecutors and the modalities could be worked out."

He was speaking during the briefing's segment on "Regional Effort to Support the Judiciaries of South Asia in the Effective Adjudication of Terrorism Cases". It was to facilitate South Asian judiciaries share their experience on terrorism cases.

Bobde, who was a judge of the Bombay High Court in 2008, recalled the 26/11 terror attack in the city that left 166 Indians and foreigners dead.

The terrorists who came from across the border "were guided throughout by handlers from across the border", he said.

"Now this was the advantage they had and this was the disadvantage the Indian people had. They did not know what the plan was, where they would go next.

"This incident underscores the point for which this conference is convened, and this is what (US Supreme Court Justice) Stephern Breyer said in the beginning (of the meeting) that judges must talk to each other," he added.

There were three areas in which the judges from the region could exchange information on terrorism cases, he said.

These were about the weapons being used by terrorists, the communication devices used and the patterns of attack followed by a group.

"If judges in one country have tried offenses perpetrated by a particular group, then that knowledge is invaluable," Bobde said.

He suggested setting up a web portal for the region's judges to share that knowledge.

Judges from the region could also visit the judicial academies in each other's countries and share their knowledge, Bobde said.

"A large number of judges who attend the academies could benefit from this. And it will uplift, it will give greater confidence and knowledge in deciding these cases."

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