Bombay HC cites right to speedy trial to uphold bail for Kalyan youth Areeb Majeed in ISIL case | Mumbai News – Times of India

MUMBAI: Observing a likelihood of his “trial being delayed for a “considerable period”, Bombay high court on Tuesday upheld bail granted by a special trial court to Kalyan-youth Areeb Majeed accused of alleged ISIL links after he went to Syria.
The HC bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale noted invoked the fundamental right to life in the context of right to speedy trial. The HC said through bail parameters are stringent for special laws like UAPA, courts are “required to perform a balancing act…between rights of an individual and society at large.’’
The rigours under Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act that makes grant of bail difficult in terror cases, would “melt down when there is no likelihood of trial being completed in a reasonable time…,’’ said the HC bench stressing on the aspect being “significant’’ in Majeed’s case given the time behind bars.
The HC said the “process of examining 51 prosecution witnesses has taken more than five years and there are 107 more witnesses” to be examined by NIA.
The bail is for Rs 1 lakh with two sureties.
The HC, however, partly allowed an appeal filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against the bail order passed last March by a special trial court in Mumbai. It set aside findings on merits of the case but upheld the bail only on the grounds pendency of trial and his incarceration since his November 28, 2014 arrest at Mumbai airport.
Majeed is facing trial for allegedly going to Syria to commit terror acts. He is accused of having indulged in alleged terrorist activities in Iraq between May and November 2014 by joining ISIL.
The NIA said he allegedly returned to India “with an intention to carry out terrorist activities in India, including blowing up of police headquarters in Mumbai.’’ He was arrested the moment he landed in India and no deaths were caused by any alleged plans, said the HC.
If convicted Majeed could face minimum five years’ imprisonment to life said the HC and he has already spent over six.
Majeed had argued that “he was, in fact, brought back to India with all necessary help by the NIA officers in consultation with his father, and that, those officers… were also present at the Airport at the time of arrival’’ at the Mumbai airport.
The HC said the findings rendered in two previous orders of rejection of his bail on merit were justified and the NIA court could not have ‘revisited’ it “merely because some prosecution witness’’ was examined who Majeed said did not support the NIA case.
The HC said, “We do not wish to give any opinion on the merits of such
documents as also the video clipping, particularly because the detailed charge-sheet running into thousands of pages is the substratum on the basis of which, two bail applications stood rejected on merits.’’
The HC, however, granted bail solely on his right to a speedy trial and whether NIA’s apprehension of him tampering with evidence was justified. In a 38-page judgment, the HC said Majeed “is an educated person, who was completing his graduation in Civil Engineering when he left for Iraq at the age of 21 years.”
“He categorically stated before us that as a 21-year-old, he was carried away and that he had committed a serious mistake, for which he had already spent more than six years behind bars,’’ said the HC.
The Judges noted that Majeed argued most of his cases himself before the special NIA court and the HC too. “We could find that he was presenting his case by maintaining decorum and in a proper manner,’’ said the HC not accepting NIA’s argument against his release on grounds that he may tamper with evidence or influence witnesses.
To allay apprehension expressed by the NIA, the HC imposed additional stringent conditions including police station visits twice daily for the first two month after release and once daily for two months after that and once a week to the NIA officer; any absence would result in his re-arrest and no bail unless special reasons are cited.
On Tuesday after the pronouncement, additional solicitor general Anil Singh appearing for NIA, sought a stay on the bail. The HC declined his plea, since it said it has imposed additional stringent conditions for his bail. Majeed said the HC had stayed the bail order since March 26, 2020 pending NIA’s appeal which was deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown that had just begun then.
The HC noted that Majeed’s father Ejaz Majeed is a doctor of Unani medicine and his sisters are also doctors. His brother is an engineer. “This shows that he comes from an educated family and that if stringent conditions are imposed upon him, with an undertaking to cooperate with the trial proceedings before the NIA Court, his release on bail may not be harmful to the society at large and it would not adversely affect the trial proceedings before the NIA Court,’’ said the HC.
The conditions imposed include surrendering his passport to NIA, no tampering of witnesses or evidence, commission of any similar alleged offences, cooperating with the pending trial.

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