On March 2, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to two alleged terrorists arrested for conspiracy to carry out a pressure cooker bombing in Lucknow on July 14, 2021. The Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court dismissed their bail plea earlier.
The Allahabad High Court bench comprising Justices Attau Rahman Masood and Om Prakash Shukla granted bail to Mohd. Mustaqeem and Mohd. Shakeel concerning “the gravity of the offences for which the trial is framed and looking to the past antecedents of the appellants being unblemished.”
In July 2021, Uttar Pradesh’s Anti-Terror Squad arrested two terrorists, named Minhaj and Bashiruddin, belonging to the Operation Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind terror group for an alleged conspiracy to carry out a pressure cooker bombing in Lucknow on August 15, 2021. The two terrorists named the present accused, Mohd. Mustaqeem and Mohd. Shakeel, on police interrogation. After that, the present accused were arrested on July 14, 2021.
The counsel for the accused, Advocate Fukran Pathan, submitted “that the investigation has already been concluded and the charge sheet submitted before the special court. On examination of the entire material collected during the course of investigation, prima facie, charge under Section 120B IPC and Section 25 (1B)(a) Arms Act has been framed against the appellants.”
He submitted that once the purpose of the investigation has been served and relevant material has been collected, then “the prolonged incarceration is hit by Article 21 of the Constitution of India, more so when the presumption of guilt is not available to the prosecution with respect to the offences alleged.”
However, the NIA’s Special Counsel Shikha Sinha opposed bail and argued that the “trial court has rightly rejected the bail application of the appellants on appreciation of the prima facie evidence against them. However, the factual position as aforesaid could not be dispelled satisfactorily.”
The counsel for the accused submitted the charges against the accused are to be proved as the “benefit of Section 43-E of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 is not available. Even otherwise, the charges framed are not covered within the scope of the schedule appended to NIA Act.”
Furthermore, he argued that “there is no past criminal history of the appellants, and they have falsely been roped in on the basis of combined call details which are a part of the material before the trial court.”
The Court granted the accused bail taking into consideration “the gravity of the offences for which the trial is framed and looking to the past antecedents of the appellants being unblemished coupled with the fact that they are in jail for the last one year and eight months and trial has begun.”
The Court concluded, “Let Mohd. Mustaqeem (appellant of criminal appeal no. 2853 of 2022) and Mohammad Shakeel (appellant of criminal appeal no. 2854 of 2022) be released on bail in the aforesaid case crime on each of them furnishing a bail bond and two sureties in the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned, however, with a rider that both the appellants shall mark their presence in local police station in the first week of every month and shall cooperate with the trial without seeking any undue adjournments.”