In a setback to the prosecution of seven suspects charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, a Pakistani court today ruled that all findings of a judicial commission that visited India were illegal and could not be made part of the evidence against the accused.
Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman, the judge of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court no. 1, said in an order that all the proceedings and the report of the Pakistani judicial commission that visited Mumbai in March were "illegal."
"The judge ruled that the commission's report is illegal and could not be made part of the records for the case," said Khwaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, one of the seven accused.
"The court has the right to examine whether the working and report of a commission was duly executed and in this case it ruled that the report was not duly executed. The report will not be read in evidence," Ahmed said.
The lawyers defending the accused had opposed the report of the Pakistani commission, saying it had "no legal value" as the panel was not allowed to cross-examine witnesses during the visit to Mumbai.
The eight-member commission, which included prosecutors and defence lawyers, visited Mumbai and interviewed a judge, a senior police officer and two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists involved in the attacks and their victims.
Indian officials had said that cross-examination of the witnesses was not allowed in line with an agreement between New Delhi and Islamabad.