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Ex-Infosys engineer held in IM case gets bail

Mere presence at discussion or dinner party can’t amount to membership of an organised crime syndicate or terrorist organisation: HC

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Mumbai | Published: September 25, 2012 2:54:25 am

Mere presence at discussion or dinner party can’t amount to membership of an organised crime syndicate or terrorist organisation: HC

Bombay High Court (HC) granted bail on Monday to Mohammed Ateeq Mohammed Iqbal,a 29-year-old former computer engineer with Infosys who was arrested by Mumbai Police Crime Branch in October 2008 for allegedly being a member of Indian Mujahideen (IM). The arrest was made following the July 26,2008,Ahmedabad and Surat blasts,for which IM had claimed responsibility in emails sent to the media minutes before the strikes.

He is the third of the 23 accused in the case to secure bail.

The prosecution had argued that Ateeq,a resident of Pusad in Yavatmal district who worked in Pune,attended discussions and a dinner organised by wanted IM operatives Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal on the evening of the serial blasts.

Granting him bail for Rs 50,000,HC said: “Mere presence at a discussion or a dinner party cannot amount to membership of an organised crime syndicate (OCS) or a terrorist organisation.”

It said issues allegedly discussed at the IM meetings were broad and a person was free to express his/her views. “…that cannot make a person a criminal unless it is shown that he has actively done something to further the activity.”

The court observed that prima facie,application of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) was not tenable in the case against IM. It said “it is highly doubtful” that IM can be called an OCS.

Justice A M Thipsay wrote in his order,“On the date of the incidents,Indian Mujahideen was not a banned organisation under provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA),1967.”

The court said under UAPA,a terror organisation meant an organisation listed under the schedule or one running in the same name as that listed. IM was added to UAPA schedule on June 4,2010.

“The acts on the basis of which the case has been registered have occurred prior to that (June 4,2010)….In any case,prima facie,there is no material to suggest there was continued unlawful activity on the part of the said OCS.

“…the allegation of membership of an OCS and also a terror organisation is not very consistent. The objective of an OCS is different from a terrorist organisation. It is difficult to imagine that a person can be fitted in both categories.”

Additional public prosecutor P S Hingorani argued three other accused in the IM case had said Ateeq attended a dinner party hosted by Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal to celebrate the blasts. He said 31 timers,like those used in the blasts,were also recovered at Ateeq’s instance.

Defence lawyer Mubin Solkar,however,countered the date and venue of the alleged dinner party differed in each confession.

End of 18-hour bus rides for father Mohammed Iqbal (58) broke down on Monday after his son Ateeq (29),in jail for the past four years for allegedly being a member of Indian Mujahideen,was granted bail.

Iqbal said he was relieved and thanked his lawyer Mubin Solkar profusely.

He told Newsline the last four years had been very difficult for the family. “No friends or colleagues supported Ateeq.”

Ateeq,second of three brothers,secured his engineering degree in 2005 and stood fourth in Amravati University.

“The year he completed his BE,he was selected for a job in Infosys,Pune.”

Ateeq had been married for six months when Mumbai Police Crime Branch arrested him on October 4,2008. “After the arrest,his wife returned to her parents,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal has been taking long and tiring bus rides to Mumbai from Pusad in Yavatmal district to meet his son in court.

“No train goes to our town. We have to take an 18-hour bus ride. I would take a bus back after meeting Ateeq since we don’t have relatives in Mumbai,” he said.

Iqbal,who also works in an engineering institute,said his wife was a heart patient and could not travel often.

“The long bus rides have given me a bad backache. I have to now wear a belt as I cannot remain seated for too long,” he said.

Iqbal said he always had faith in law. “Ateeq was depressed,but he too had faith in law. Everyone has good times and bad times. We knew God would be with us.”

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