Delhi High Court Judge Suresh Kait presided over the hearing, which included cross-examination of crime branch officer Inspector H R Rathod, the Investigating Officer of the jail escape case, by the defence lawyer Ashok Agrawal.

In February 2013, the authorities at the Sabarmati Jail here found a 213-ft-long tunnel, allegedly dug by the accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts case, who are also accused of being SIMI members.

Advocate Agrawal on Thursday questioned the officer about alleged connivance of some of the prison officials in the escape conspiracy, but Rathod said, "I am not aware."

When asked whether he was aware that some of the jail officials had been suspended, he said, "I do not remember, at the time I lodged the FIR, whether I knew (if) some jail officials and staff had been suspended."

About the findings of the committee headed by the then DIG Prisons, Amit Vishwakarma, which conducted independent inquiry, Rathod said he was not aware of the report, so he did not obtain its copy during his probe.
    
The police officer denied that he deliberately omitted from the FIR the names of prison officials whom the report blames for the laxity/complicity.

When Agrawal suggested that without the complicity of the jail staff it was impossible to dig a tunnel and to dispose of 1,633.8 cubic feet of soil, Rathod said, "It is incorrect."

To the defence lawyer's claim that the (failed) escape attempt had nothing to do with SIMI, Rathod denied, and sought to produce a confession of one of the accused.

Accordingly, the accused had planned to meet up in Pavagadh area after the escape and use an email-ID with the words Al-Munafiq to communicate.

But this statement is not a part of chargesheet, and Rathod produced a Gujarati version. The tribunal said it would decide later whether to take it on record.

The tribunal would be having another sitting, as the hearing did not conclude on Thursday.

(Agencies)

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