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Friday, September 17, 2021

SC rejects NIA’s plea challenging bail by Bombay HC to alleged IS member

The SC bench noted that stringent conditions have already been imposed by HC while granting bail to Kalyan man Areeb Majeed

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: August 27, 2021 3:22:52 pm
Suspected ISIS member Areeb Majeed being taken court by police security personnel in 2014. (Express File Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a plea by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking to cancel the bail granted by the Bombay High Court to a Kalyan man accused of travelling to Iraq and Syria to join the terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS).

A bench of Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice A S Bopanna, which was hearing a special leave petition filed by NIA argued through Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, refused to interfere in the HC order, stating that stringent conditions were already imposed by the High Court while granting bail to the accused, Areeb Majeed.

Majeed, who appeared in person before the Bombay High Court to argue his case, was granted bail on February 23.

Noting that the right to fair and speedy trial was recognised under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution, the high court had held that the same was applicable to Majeed given that “there was no likelihood of the trial being completed within a reasonable time”.

The High Court had upheld the bail granted by the Special NIA Court on March 17, 2020, “on the ground of the accused having already undergone incarceration for more than six years” and the likelihood of the trial being delayed.

A civil engineering student when he went missing in May 2014, Majeed was among the first group of youths alleged to have left India to join the IS.

The High Court had referred to a Supreme Court ruling that had held that rigorous stringent bail provisions as per Section 43D (5) of the UAPA would “melt down” with “no likelihood of the trial being completed in reasonable time and period of incarceration already exceeding substantial part of the prescribed sentence”.

The Bombay HC had imposed stringent conditions for bail, granted on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and sureties. Majeed has to report to the nearest police station on a regular basis and the NIA officer concerned once a week, stay with his family in Kalyan, and not make any statements regarding proceedings pending before the Special Court in any form.

Warning him against any activity similar to the allegations against him, the HC had said, “He shall not try to establish communication with (the) co-accused or any other person involved directly or indirectly in similar activities or make any international call to any person indulging in similar activities as alleged against him, through any mode of communication.”

Directing Majeed’s cooperation for expeditious disposal of the trial and in observing the bail conditions, the Bench said that in case of any violation, his bail would be liable to be cancelled.

On Friday, ASG Raju submitted before the Supreme Court that bail granted to Majeed be cancelled as the case was under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Majeed’s decent behaviour in court was a ground for bail before HC.

Raju said Majeed is a terrorist who went to Syria and then returned to India with the intention to carry out terrorist acts, including blowing up the Police Headquarters in Mumbai, and, therefore, it was better if he stayed in jail.

The bench, however, noted that stringent conditions have already been imposed by HC while granting bail. “What is a question of law? Why should we interfere? read all the bail conditions. He was already in jail for almost six and half years,” the Supreme Court said as it refused to entertain NIA’s plea.

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