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Allahabad High Court grants bail to two terrorists arrested last year

In connection with a conspiracy to carry out a pressure cooker bombing in Lucknow, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has granted bail to two alleged terrorists who were arrested last year.

The Division Bench of Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi Justice Om Prakash Shukla passed this order while hearing a Criminal Appeal filed by Mohd Mustaqeem and Mohammad Shakeel.

The two appeals arise out of a common FIR registered as Crime under Section 120B IPC and Section 25 (1B)(a) Arms Act, P.S NIA, Lucknow.

Pursuant to the FIR lodged, the appellants on being apprehended were arrested on 14.7.2021 and have been in jail since last one year and eight months.

Counsel for the appellants 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.

It is argued that once the purpose of investigation with the collection of relevant material has been served, the curtailment of liberty of the appellants any further, that too in a situation where the trial is to take a long time for the list of witnesses being lengthy, the prolonged incarceration is hit by Article 21 of the Constitution of India, moreso when the presumption of guilt is not available to the prosecution with respect to the offences alleged.

It is further argued that the offences for which the appellants have been charged for facing trial are to be proved during the course of trial and 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, therefore, the detention of the appellants any further amounts to violation of their liberty contrary to the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

On the aspect of their antecedents, it is pointed out that both the appellants are engaged in self employment. The appellant Mohd Mustaqeem is a mason whereas Mohammad Shakil is a e-rickshaw driver, however, proof in support of this contention is not available on record.

Counsel for the appellants further submitted 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.

Counsel for the NIA has vehemently opposed the prayer for bail and has 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.

Having regard to 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, a case for grant of bail is made out, the Court observed.

“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.

Both the criminal appeals are accordingly allowed and the impugned orders passed in the respective appeals set aside”, the order reads.

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