Judges sitting on a powder keg for 3 years

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The City Civil and Sessions Court complex, which houses scores of court halls in the heart of the city, is literally sitting on explosives. A large cache of materials used in making bombs, including at least 3 kg of ammonium nitrate and three kilograms of gelatin sticks, is stored in the property room of the complex for the last three years. The explosives are kept along with case materials from hundreds of other cases, and without precautions needed to store them. The court hearing this case noticed that the explosive materials were stored in the court itself and took the prosecution to the task. The prosecution has now filed an application in the court, seeking permission to dispose of the explosive materials.

The police had seized the ammonium nitrate and other explosives equipment including detonators, gelatin sticks, timers, digital circuits, PVC pipes, gel, fuel oil, laptop and other communication equipment from a house in Pulakeshinagar in January 2015. A related raid in Bhatkal also led to the seizure of similar material.

Three persons were arrested. The seized materials have been dumped along with material from hundreds of other cases in the property storeroom of the court complex.

THE CASE

In January 2015, the CCB investigators, along with internal security division (ISD), had conducted the raid on a house in Pulikeshinagar where they arrested two youths; Syed Ismail Afaq (34) and Saddam Hussein (35). Another terror suspect, Abdus Subur (24), an MBA student, was arrested from Bhatkal. The police believe they were part of the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

Police investigation revealed that they were in touch with an IM handler based outside India. They were suspected to have supplied explosives to those involved in bomb blasts in other parts of India. After the raid, the case was handed over for the investigation to special enquiry squad of the CCB by then police commissioner MN Reddi. The suspects are said to be reporting to one Sultan Ahmed Armar, a terror recruiter with links to IM, Taliban and the ISIS.

The CCB police who had seized the explosives sent the samples to forensic science laboratory and produced them before the court and kept them in the court property room. For the last three years, the explosives were kept there. Until the court inquired about their safety last week, even the police had not thought about it.

When contacted, joint commissioner of police (crime) N Sateesh Kumar confirmed the development. “We will request the court to give us permission to either destroy the explosives by first recording the evidence or to shift the explosives to a secure place.”

NO SAFE PLACE

The property room in the City Civil Court complex houses material related to cases from 135 police stations of Bengaluru city. But there is no special storage facility for explosives. In fact, the city police do not have a designated place to store seized explosives or related material. A senior officer from CCB said: “The procedure is to keep the case materials in the property room of the court. The court has noticed that it would be unsafe. But in fact, the only suitable place to keep these explosives is with the Army. In Bengaluru only they have proper armoury rooms where these explosives can be safely stored.”

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) usually handles terror-related cases. An officer of the NIA said: “When NIA is involved, we do not keep explosive materials in the court complex. We request the court in the beginning itself to give us permission to keep the explosives in a safe place and produce them in court when required. It is the duty of an investigating officer to keep the explosives safely.”

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