Dr Sharif Ahmed, who has spent nine years behind bars for his alleged involvement in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case, failed to get bail from the Bombay High Court.
According to the Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), he is one of those involved in concealing and transporting five boxes of arms and explosives in a car. He is also accused of attempting to dispose of the car in Malegaon.
Ahmed is the key accused while four others – Mushtaque Ahmed, Afzal Khan, Riyaz Ahmed and Javed Ahmed – are out on bail.
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Ahmed was refused bail in March by a special court. Thereafter, he moved the Bombay High Court, but the special public prosecutor then said the trial was likely to be completed within three months. Following a delay, he pressed his bail plea recently.
His case was similar to that of the other four accused who were granted bail, submitted Ahmed’s lawyer, adding that Ahmed had no knowledge of the composition of the boxes.
Justice Abhay M Thipsay, however, felt his case was distinct. He observed that one of the main accused Bilal, against whom there was a prima facie case of conspiracy in procuring a large quantity of arms and explosives, thought of getting in touch with Dr Ahmed.
This, prima facie, indicates that full “reliance, faith and trust” was placed in Ahmed by Bilal, said Justice Thipsay. “It is true that simply because of this, one may not come to the conclusion that the applicant was involved in the ‘larger conspiracy’, but certainly, if a deeper examination of the role of the applicant in the alleged offences is felt necessary or desirable on that count, it would not be improper,” the HC said.
The HC felt there were two factors — his nine-year confinement in jail and appointment of a new judge for the trial—in favour of the bail application. However, the HC observed that it could not, in the process of deciding on the bail application, make observations on whether there was a prima facie case against Ahmed.
The HC observed, “The impropriety of this Court judging the existence of a prima facie case against the applicant lies in the real and genuine possibility of either the accused or the prosecution being prejudiced on account of the observations, which this Court would be compelled to make in the process.” Such observations by the HC could influence the final decision of the trial court, Justice Thipsay said while rejecting Ahmed’s bail plea. The HC has also asked the trial court to conduct the trial on a daily basis and conclude it at the earliest.