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Antilia terror scare case: HC dismisses NIA’s appeal against bail for accused

Naresh Gaur was arrested in March for his alleged involvement in the procurement of SIM cards used by the other accused in the case.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: December 21, 2021 6:22:38 pm
Antilia terror scare case, Antilia case, Pradeep Sharma, Pradeep Sharma news, Taloja Central Jail, Taloja Jail, Mumbai news, Mumbai city news, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Maharashtra government, India news, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsAn SUV with explosives inside it was found outside Mukesh Ambani's house in Mumbai on February 25. (File Photo)

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) appeal against the bail granted to Naresh Gaur, an accused in the Antilia terror scare case.

After the NIA’s counsel sought strict bail conditions on Gaur, the bench said it has dismissed the agency’s appeal and the special court has already laid down bail conditions and the same are stringent in nature.

A division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Sarang V Kotwal had concluded the hearing and reserved its verdict on the NIA’s plea on December 17.

The central agency had approached the division bench of the HC barely a day after a single-judge bench of the HC set aside a special NIA court order staying for 25 days the bail it had granted to Gaur.

Gaur was arrested in March for his alleged involvement in the procurement of SIM cards used by the other accused in the case.

On December 10, Gaur’s counsel told a division bench that he will not act on the bail order till the appeal is decided. On December 15, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh and advocate Sandesh Patil, appearing for the NIA, said that Gaur had illegally obtained 14 SIM cards and benami cards cannot be used for official purposes. Therefore, Gaur knew of the illegality, he added. Singh said the special court order was wrong, unjustified and did not consider the material on record and the same should be set aside.

However, senior advocate Shirish Gupte and advocate Aniket Nikam, appearing for Gaur, said the special judge had rightly applied his mind based on material on record before him. including the chargesheet.

The special court had on November 20 granted bail to Gaur, who was the first among the 10 arrested in the case to be given relief. The court had, however, said that Gaur will not be released immediately, as it stayed its own order after the NIA said it wanted to approach the HC against the bail.

Justice Kotwal, who authored the judgment, noted, “In any case, that particular SIM card was not used in that part of the offence of putting the explosives in a car and parking that car. There was no direct discussion between Sachin Waze (now dismissed police officer) or any other accused except Vinayak Shinde (suspended constable) with the present respondent (Gaur). Therefore, there is nothing to show that the respondent was aware or had knowledge of the conspiracy to park the explosive laden vehicle on Carmichael road. He only knew that Sachin Waze had demanded five SIM cards through his employer.”

The bench added, “Thus, when the SIM cards were procured by Gaur on February 20, this year and were handed over to Vinayak Shinde on February 21, the plan to commit murder of Mansukh Hiran was not even hatched by Sachin Waze and, therefore, it would be far fetched to attribute knowledge of this plan to respondent when he procured these SIM cards.”

The HC held, “We are satisfied that the impugned order does not suffer from any illegality, perversity or non-application of mind. We have even independently assessed the material against the respondent. We see no reason to interfere with the impugned order. The Respondent Gaur has been in custody since March 21. The prosecution has not shown any material which suggests that he would abscond or would tamper with the evidence… As a result, the appeal is dismissed. The order dated November 20 passed by the Special Judge is confirmed.”

The court, however, clarified that the case of Gaur is “entirely different from those of other accused” and therefore the discussion in the judgment is “strictly restricted to the case of Gaur alone”, and the special court shall not be influenced by HC observations while deciding the trial.

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