Saturday, December 9, 2023

Allahabad HC grants anticipatory bail to 2 advocates accused of damaging public property during anti-CAA protests

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The Allahabad High Court has granted anticipatory bail to two advocates, accused of damaging public property and assaulting public servants during the 2019 protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

A single-judge bench of Justice Raj Beer Singh passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Anticipatory Bail Application filed by Advocate Wajid alias Wajid Khan and another.

The application has been moved by the applicants seeking anticipatory bail in case under Sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 336, 188, 427, 120B, 153A, 295A, 109 IPC, Section 3 of Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act and Section 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act, PS Kotwali City, District Bijnor with the prayer that in the event of arrest, applicants may be released on bail.

It has been argued by the counsel for the applicants that applicants are innocent and they have been falsely implicated in the case. The applicants are not named in the FIR.

In the FIR, it has been alleged that on 02.12.2019 at about 3.00 PM, a mob of 250-300 persons, armed with lathis and rods, damaged vehicles parked along the road and also assaulted people.

The counsel submitted that in fact case under Sections 147, 148, 149, 188, 307, 323, 332, 336, 353, 427, 436, 120B, 153A, 295A, 109 IPC, Section 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act, Section 3 of Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act, Police Station Kotwali City, District Bijnor, was registered on 20.12.2019 regarding protests against CAA and NRC and applicants were also named in that case and on the basis of the statement of some co-accused persons, the applicants have been falsely implicated in this case.

In the above stated case, both the applicants have already been granted anticipatory bail order dated 17.02.2021.

It has further been submitted that applicants have no previous criminal antecedents and that the cases shown against them were registered subsequently. It has been stated that the applicant no 1 (Wajid Khan) is 68 years old and he is a practising Advocate having experience of more than 40 years and applicant no 2 is 60 years old and he is also a practising Advocate. It was also pointed out that earlier the applicants were granted interim anticipatory bail vide order dated 06.01.2022 and that now charge-sheet has already been submitted.

It was also submitted that applicants undertake to co-operate during investigation and trial and they would appear as and when required by the investigating agency or Court. It has been stated that in case the applicants are granted anticipatory bail, they shall not misuse the liberty of bail and will cooperate with the investigation and would obey all conditions of bail.

The AGA has opposed the application for anticipatory bail and argued that during investigation, involvement of applicants was found and that they have been identified through CCTV footage and that there is previous criminal history against the applicants.

A perusal of the parameters for granting anticipatory bail as stated-above, would show that the Court must consider the seriousness of the offence, the nature of investigation that is required before the charge sheet is filed, the likelihood of the applicant’s absconding from justice, the antecedents of the accused and chances of the applicants tampering with evidence or threatening the witnesses.

“In the case, considering aforesaid position of law, the submissions of the counsel for the parties, nature of accusations and all attending facts and circumstances of the case, without expressing any opinion on merit of the case, a case for anticipatory bail is made out,” the Court observed while allowing the anticipatory bail application.

The Court ordered,

In the event of arrest of the applicants Wajid Advocate alias Mohd Wajid Khan Advocate and Mohd Irshad Athar Siddique involved in the aforesaid case crime shall be released on anticipatory bail on their furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the Station House Officer of the police station concerned/Court concerned with the following conditions :-

(i) the applicants shall make himself available for interrogation by a police officer as and when required;

(ii) the applicants shall not directly or indirectly, make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him/her/them from disclosing such facts to the Court or to any police officer;

(iii) the applicants would cooperate during investigation and trial and would not misuse the liberty of bail.

In default of any of the conditions, the Investigating Officer/ prosecution shall be at liberty to file appropriate application for cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to the applicants.

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