NIA Case Accused Granted Bail by HC

Hyderabad: A two-judge panel of Justice K. Lakshman and Justice P. Sree sudha of the Telangana High Court enlarged on bail nine persons accused of terrorist activities and facing prosecution before the Special Court for NIA cases in nine cases.

The panel allowed criminal appeals against judgments of the Special Court dismissing bail applications by various accused who are members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and are alleged to be trained in a criminal conspiracy for establishing Islamic rule in India. It is alleged that they were being recruited for training and had attended a meet at a function hall in Kurnool to commit violent terrorist activities, such as murdering the targeted persons with knives, sickles, iron rods, etc., and the said training was with an intention to strike terror in the minds of people belonging to a particular religious community.

The panel, speaking through Justice K. Lakshman, made a chart of all the accusations against the accused in the eight cases. Though the case was initially registered with the Town VI Nizamabad Police Station, the investigation was taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

V. Raghunath, senior counsel appearing for the petitioner, pointed out that as on the date of the alleged raid, PFI was not a banned organisation. It has been conducting several activities including total empowerment of the marginalised and backward sections of society. He further submitted that mere participation in the meeting is not a “terrorist act” and the appellants have not committed any offence. He pointed out that the investigation was completed and that they have been languishing in jail since July and September 2022.

B. Narasimha Sharma, Additional Solicitor General of India, opposed the bail on the ground that there was every possibility of the appellants threatening the protected witnesses and interfering with fair trial. He would also argue that there are specific allegations and covert acts against the accused.

Dealing with the rights of the appellant to whom bail was rejected, Justice Lakshman said, “Open justice is premised on the notion that justice should not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. The duty of the judges to give reasoned decisions lies at the heart of this commitment. Questions of the grant of bail concern both the liberty of individuals undergoing criminal prosecution as well as the interest of the criminal justice system in ensuring that those who commit crimes are not afforded the opportunity to obstruct justice.”

He also said that at the stage of granting bail, “The court is not required to enter into a detailed analysis of the evidence on record to establish beyond reasonable doubt the commission of the crime by the accused. That is a matter for trial.”

The panel proceeded to survey multiple judgments on the grant of bail and found that while the PFI was banned in September 2022 and the meeting in which the accused participated was in January, and February 2021.

“The object of the PFI was conducting welfare activities which are useful to the downtrodden people including distribution of ration kits, food during Ramzan, organising blood donation camps, School Chalo campaign for giving school uniforms, books and scholarships for the poor Muslim students. It is also conducting Yoga classes.

“It is apt to note that if the appellants threaten any witness including protected witnesses or interfere with fair trial, the NIA can as well file an application seeking cancellation of bail. But it cannot be a ground to oppose bail or deny bail by this court,” Justice Lakshman said speaking for the bench.

The panel also took cognisance of the fact that the accused included a welder, two people in the pickle business, a vegetable vendor, a petty business, a chicken shop owner, a Photostat shop, a painter, an electrician.

“The only apprehension of the NIA is that the appellants may threaten the witnesses including protected witnesses and may interfere with the trial in which event the Special Court may not be in a position to conduct a fair trial. In such an event, the NIA is at liberty to file an application seeking cancellation of bail,” the panel observed.

The panel also made clear that the released accused shall not commit any similar offence, intimate or influence witnesses, and shall surrender their passports.

In-charge DME appointment suspended

Justice Pulla Karthik of the Telangana High Court suspended the appointment of Dr Vani as the in-charge Director of Medical Education. The judge was dealing with a writ plea filed by Prof. Narender Kumar, presently the Principal, Osmania Medical College. According to the petitioner, the appointment of Dr Vani, the present principal of Government Medical College, Sangareddy, was without the authority of law. It was contended by P.V. Krishnaiah, counsel for the petitioner, that such an appointment can be in the nature of an additional charge, but such an in-charge appointment is without an authority of law. The petitioner would also contend that the appointed person was junior to him.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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