The Indian Express had earlier reported that in eight remand applications filed before a magistrate between August and November, 2006 the ATS had stated that the cellphones seized from the accused needed scrutiny. In more than one remand applications, the ATS claimed the accused had made calls “for contacting the other members of LeT outside India...”
In a five-page affidavit, Inspector Sunil Wadke, who is now attached to the Bhayander police station, but was with the Technical Unit Cell of the ATS between 2004 and 2008, said, “Whatever data was received from the service providers, was received in the form of soft copies and after studying the same, I had informed the IO ACP Patil that there was absolutely no material which was relevant or useful for the purpose of the matter under investigation.”
Wadke’s affidavit states that the data from service providers is always obtained in the form of soft copies and if, after analysis, it is found to be relevant and is required as evidence, then it is obtained in hard copies with proper certification. “Since in this case, at no point in time, any relevant information was noticed on analysis of soft copies, there was no occasion to obtain hard copies,” Wadke has stated.
Thirteen alleged SIMI members facing trial in the 7/11 blasts had moved the HC challenging the order of a special MCOCA court that rejected their plea seeking the examination of three policemen and production of CDRs that the ATS was using against them.
Wadke said, “If the data was not relevant to the probe of the said case or was not useful, then on instructions of the DCP, it was deleted after filing of the chargesheet.” Wadke, who said he was the “custodian of such data”, added that none of the CDRs relating to the cellphones were relied upon by the prosecution in the 7/11 terror attacks chargesheet.
Defence lawyers Yug Chaudhry and Khan Abdul Wahab told the court the affidavit is “shoddy” and Wadke had made no mention of whose permission he had sought for deleting the records nor had he stated the date on which the record was erased. Chaudhry argued that there are rules for destruction of evidence under the Police Manual, but the affidavit does not state which rules were followed. Public Prosecutor Revati Dere said that it is only in 2012 that the defence had realised that they needed the call records. “If they thought the evidence was so crucial, they should have sought a restraining order against destruction by nodal officers,” she said.
Justice A M Thipsay said, “The question needs independent consideration.”
The arguments are likely to be concluded on Tuesday.