The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Syed Mohammad Ahmed Kazmi,who has been in custody since March 6 for allegedly aiding the February 13 attack on an Israeli diplomat on Aurangzeb Road in the capital.
The court said Kazmi,who claims to have been writing for an Iranian publication,has acquired his statutory right to bail on July 17.
Allowing his appeal,a bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir,set aside a magisterial courts order of July 20,extending the time of investigation and custody of Kazmi by another 90 days with retrospective effect from June 2.
Kazmi had challenged the Chief Metropolitan Magistrates (CMM) order. He said he had moved for bail on July 17 when Additional Sessions Judge S S Rathi had quashed the magistrates order extending his detention and the probe period from 90 to 180 days.
Rathi had said the order was passed in a most reticent and clandestine manner since Kazmi was not heard.
The CMM did not hear his application on July 17. A day later,the prosecution filed another application for extension of his remand. The CMM issued a formal notice to Kazmi this time. On July 20,the CMM again allowed the extension of time from 90 and 180 days with retrospective effect from June 2.
Kazmi challenged this order at the sessions court and in the Delhi High Court. But his pleas were rejected. Challenging these orders,Kazmis counsel Mehmood Pracha told the apex court that the CMM could not have extended his custody once the 90-day period was over on July 17 and he acquired the legal right to be released on statutory bail.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) H P Raval countered his arguments,stating that once the period for completing investigation was extended,Kazmis bail plea was rendered null and void. Hence,his appeal was to be dismissed.
The Supreme Court refused to accept the ASGs contentions. It said Kazmi acquired the right for grant of statutory bail on July 17 when his custody was held to be illegal by the ASJ. The court said Kazmis bail application was pending at the CMMs court when the prosecution sought an extension of time for continuing the investigation.
Not only is the retrospective nature of the CMMs order untenable,it could also not defeat the statutory right which had accrued to the appellant on the expiry of 90 days from the date when he was taken into custody, the court said.
Such a right could have been closed only if Kazmi had not moved for bail before filing of the chargesheet,it said.
We are unable to appreciate the procedure adopted by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate,which has been endorsed by the High Court and we are of the view that the appellant acquired the right for grant of statutory bail on 17th July,2012…the right of the appellant to grant of statutory bail remained unaffected by the subsequent application and both the CMM and the HC erred in holding otherwise, the apex court bench said.
Kazmi was told to surrender his passport as the court restrained him form leaving the city without its permission.
Bombing To Bail
February 13,2012: A motorcycle-borne man sticks a magnetic bomb on Israeli diplomat Tal Yehoshuas car at 3.15 pm on Aurangzeb Road
March 6: Syed Mohammad Ahmed Kazmi arrested after a probe showed that he allegedly helped the suspect
March 7: Delhi court remands Kazmi in police custody till March 27
March 30: Kazmi seeks bail
April 3: Court dismisses Kazmis bail plea
July 13: Kazmi moves fresh bail plea which was rejected
July 20: The CMM extends the probe period to 180 days
July 31: Chargesheet filed indicting Kazmi
October 19: Supreme Court grants bail to Kazmi