New Delhi: The NIA was on Saturday directed by a Delhi court to produce before it on March 13 Pakistani- American David Coleman Headley, his accomplice Tahawwur Rana, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and 26/11 attack mastermind Zaki-ur- Rehman Lakhvi, accused of carrying out several terror attacks in India.

The court also issued non-bailable warrants (NBW) against Pakistan Army officials Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali, Al-Qaeda operative Illyas Kashmiri, Headley's handler Sajid Malik and former Pakistani Army officer Abdul Rehman Hashmi.

District Judge H S Sharma took cognizance of the charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against all the nine accused for their alleged roles in various terror acts in the country.

"In view of facts contained in the report (charge sheet) under section 173 of the CrPC, 1973 and the documents placed on record, I take cognizance against accused one to accused nine. I would like to add that the prosecution is still in the process of collecting more evidence which is permissible under section 173 (8) of the CrPC.

"Process to procure the presence of accused one to accused four (Headley, Rana, Saeed and Lakhvi) be got issued for March 13, 2012. NBWs against accused five to accused nine (other accused) have already been issued for that day," the judge said.

The court also allowed the NIA's plea to issue a letter of request to the Kingdom of Morocco for judicial assistance.

"What the NIA intends to do is to investigate the matter i.e. to collect more evidence. Without having the assistance of the court or the authority in Kingdom of Morocco, it would not be possible for the investigating agency to collect evidence against the accused.... The investigation cannot be throttled," the court said, adding, the letter of request would be handed over to the NIA on February 29.

The NIA had urged the court to issue a letter rogatory to Morocco to help it further investigate the role of Headley's second wife, Faiza Outalha, in the 26/11 attacks and ascertain her whereabouts.

According to the NIA, Outalha hails from Morocco and she had made visits to India in April, 2007 and June, July and August, 2008.
   
The NIA, in its charge sheet filed on December 24, had accused 51-year-old Headley, Rana, Saeed and six others for planning and executing terror strikes in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

The NIA had initially registered a case against Headley and Rana but after a thorough probe, seven other names were included in the case.

The charge sheet, which was filed after two years of probe by the central agencies, contained statements of 134 witnesses along with 210 documents and 106 e-mails.

Headley and Rana are at present in the custody of the US authorities and the NIA has only got a limited access to Headley who had entered into plea bargain with US authorities to escape harsh sentence.

The court, in its order while taking cognizance, noted that Headley was taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 3, 2009.

"Headley had been taken into custody by FBI on October 3, 2009. Headley, as per the documents...., under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, entered into a 'plea agreement'.

"He voluntarily made plea of guilt before the competent authority. He admitted the charges against him," the court noted.

(Agencies)