Updated: December 22, 2021 10:10:27 am
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of Rizwan Ahmed, a resident of Uttar Pradesh accused of radicalising local youths from Malwani in Malad to join terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
However, a division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N J Jamadar directed the special NIA court to conclude the trial in the case preferably by the end of December, next year. In the event the trial is not concluded by then, Ahmed shall be at liberty to renew the prayer for bail.
Ahmed had sought to quash the May 10, 2021 order of the special NIA court that had rejected his bail plea. Earlier this month, Ahmed, along with Mohsin Sayyed, another accused in the case, had orally pleaded guilty before the NIA court.
Ahmed and Sayyed are facing trial for instigating youths Ayaz Sultan, Mohsin, Abdul Bashir and Noor Mohammad from Malwani to join IS in 2015. The investigating agencies have claimed that Ahmed was the second-in-command of the IS wing in India.
The prosecution has alleged that Sayyed, along with Noor Mohammad, a carpenter, and Wajid Shaikh, son of a vegetable seller, had gone missing in December 2015 and decided to join IS. Ahmed was initially arrested on January 22, 2016 by ATS. After the NIA took over the probe, the crime was re-registered and charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) were framed.
Advocates Sharif Shaikh, Kritika Agarwal and Mateen Shaikh, appearing for Ahmed, told HC that NIA failed to make out a prima facie case against their client and could not prove conspiracy charges. Special Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai, appearing for NIA, opposed the plea saying that since the allegations are of grave nature and the evidence of prosecution witnesses indicating that the same were “ex facie true,” he was barred from being released on bail as per Section 43D of the UAPA.
The HC said, “It is pertinent to note that the statement made by co-accused Mohsin about the position of the appellant in the banned terrorist organisation (as Nayab Amir of ISIS in India) cannot be said to be bereft of any evidentiary value.” The said statement was made when the conspiracy was allegedly afoot… There are no reasonable grounds to believe that the accusation against the appellant is prima facie true.”
It also noted that it cannot release Ahmed on bail on the ground of prolonged incarceration, as the trial is being conducted with “reasonable dispatch,” which was also delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a substantial number of witnesses have been examined.
The bench said that quality of material produced against appellant also “assumes importance” and in view of gravity of offenses, “the apprehension of the special court of strong possibility of appellant reverting to proscribed activities cannot be said to be totally unfounded”.
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