Rana-will article 20 play spoil sport?

As expected there was a set back for India in the Tawwahur Rana case. However India continues to be optimistic, but the issue would be that there would be a lot of legal juggling now involved in order to proceed with this case.

Speaking to legal experts on this particular case, one gets to know that the trial in India against Rana can go on as usual. The verdict of the US court will have absolutely no precedent or bearing on the investigation over here.

For starters, Rana could not have been tried in the US court for an offence committed in India, legal experts in India say. This verdict should not have any impact on our individual case, says Justice Santosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court of India. This verdict may have an influence on our legal system, but there is no precedent that our judicial system ought to abide by the verdict of the US court.

However the biggest worry for the Indian agencies is the provision mandated under Article 20 of the Indian constitution. It makes it clear that a person cannot be tried twice for the same offence as it will amount to double jeopardy. Although India will go ahead with its investigation and ultimately file a chargesheet against Rana, the question is whether Rana’s legal team will make use of the provisions under Article 20. The charges levelled in the US and also in India are almost the same. He was accused of aiding David Headley to stage the 26/11 attack. The US court has not found any merit in that argument.

With regard to Article 20, legal experts point out that there should not be any problem for India to try him once again for the same offence. Even if Rana is to put forth that argument, India can always argue back stating that he was tried in the US for an offence committed in India and this itself is not acceptable to us. This is a matter which will be debated largely in the legal circles over the days to come since it is expected to come up once a chargesheet is filed by the National Investigating Agency.

Looking at the legal provisions available at the moment, there does not appear to be any set precedent on this aspect of the case. At the moment it seems as though there will not be any problem for us to try Rana in India. The only issue will be the impact the Rana case will have in the international community which more or less treats the verdict of a US court as the gospel truth. However legal experts say that all these factors ought not to deter the Indian agencies and they should just go ahead with whatever case they have on hand. The aim should be to put up a strong case and ensure that he is convicted for his offence in India in relation with the 26/11 attack.

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