The Supreme Court today stayed a Delhi High Court order that granted bail to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in a case where he was accused of funding terror organisations.
The Delhi High Court on Thursday granted the businessman bail and observed that nothing has been shown to suggest that his trade was “geared toward funding of terrorist activities”. Watali was arrested by the NIA in a terror-funding case involving Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed among others.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the submissions of National Investigation Agency (NIA) that the release of Watali would cause grave harm to the ongoing probe in the terror-funding case.
The NIA was represented by Attorney General K K Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh.
The bench has now fixed the plea of NIA filed against the Delhi High Court verdict for hearing on September 26 and asked the accused businessman to file his response in the meantime.
The court while granting bail to Watali had made some critical observations against the investigating agency.
“The documents (seized in the case) do not enable this court to prima facie conclude, as the trial court has in its order stated, that appellant (Watali) received money from A-1 (LeT chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed) or PHC (Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi) or others and was passing on the said funds to the Hurriyat leaders for funding terrorist activities and stone pelting,” the High Court said.
What the case is about
Watali was arrested on August 17, 2017 and chargesheeted by the NIA on January 18 along with the head of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hafiz Saeed, and the head of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Sayeed Salahudeen, along with 10 others.
All the accused were chargesheeted under stringent anti-terror laws, for allegedly hatching a conspiracy with Saeed and Salahuddin to wage a war against India. Earlier, Kamran Yusuf, a photojournalist and Javed Ahmad Bhatt a hawker of home appliances, were granted regular bail after the chargesheet was filed. Only Hafiz Saeed and Salahudeen have not been arrested in the case.
Probing the Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case, the NIA had alleged that Zahoor Watali moved money from Pakistan to Kashmir to fuel stone-pelting and unrest in the Valley. He was allegedly the connection between LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani.