New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday fixed February 21 for framing an additional charge - waging war against the country - against Wasim Akram Malik, who is facing trial for his alleged role in the September 2011 Delhi High Court blast case.
The trial judge had earlier declined the NIA's plea to prosecute Malik under the stringent charge which entails maximum punishment of death penalty, but the High Court had ruled otherwise.
During in-chamber proceedings on Saturday, District Judge I S Mehta also kept the plea of the National Investigation Agency(NIA) seeking handwriting sample of Malik for consideration on February 21.
According to court sources, the NIA told the judge that the Delhi High Court had passed an order on December 3 last year ordering the trial court to frame charges of waging war against the country against Malik who is presently in jail under judicial custody.
"Put up for consideration of application for taking hand writing sample of accused (Malik) on the next date of hearing and framing of additional charges, after passing of the order by the High Court of Delhi, on February 21," the court said.
The trial court on October 1 last year had framed charges, including murder, against Malik under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Explosive Substance Act for his alleged role in the September 7, 2011 terror attack at the high court's reception in which 15 people were killed and 79 were injured.
The trial judge, however, had declined the NIA's plea to prosecute Malik under stringent charge of waging war against India saying that merely because an e-mail referring to the release of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, who was subsequently hanged on February 9 this year, was sent by the accused after the blast, it does not mean that an offence against the state was committed.
The NIA had then approached the High Court on September 18 last year against the trial court's order dropping the charge of waging war against India against the accused.
The high court had on December 3 last year ordered the trial court to frame charges of waging war against the country against Malik for his alleged role in the terror strike.
The high court had said that the facts as alleged and material evidence relied upon and mentioned justify framing of charges under the appropriate section of the IPC.
During the hearing on Saturday, the NIA also told the court that an accused in the case, who was absconding, has been killed in an encounter with security forces on December 20 last year in Kishtwar in Jammu and Kashmir, the sources said.
The sources said that the court allowed the plea of NIA for abating proceedings against accused Shakir Hussain Sheikh alias Chota Hafiz, saying "since accused Sheikh is stated and reported to be dead, the proceedings against him in the present case are abated."
The court had earlier framed charges against Malik for offences punishable under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 440 (mischief committed after preparation made for causing death or hurt), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (causing hurt) and 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) of the IPC.
While deciding to frame charges against Malik earlier, the trial court had referred to co-accused-turned-approver Amir Abbas Dev's statement to the magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC.
Dev was also arrested by the NIA for his alleged role in the case but had later turned approver and was granted pardon by the judge.
The NIA had filed its charge sheet against six, including Malik, Dev and a minor, besides three others -- Amir Kamal, Junaid Akram Malik and Shakir Hussain Seikh, who are suspected members of the banned terror outfit Hizb-ul Mujahideen and are evading arrest. The minor's case is being adjudicated separately.
The charge sheet against the six accused was filed under various sections of the IPC dealing with murder, criminal conspiracy, waging war against the nation, attempt to murder, causing grievous hurt and others, besides various offences under the Explosive Act and the UAP Act.