Top Story Delhi HC seeks NIA's response over speedy trial of...

Delhi HC seeks NIA’s response over speedy trial of IM operative

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New Delhi, Apr 13 (ILNS) The Delhi High Court today sought response from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over the petition filed by an Indian Mujahideen operative, seeking bail and speedy trial in a case registered against him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

A Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambani issued notice to the National Investigation Agency over the petition filed by IM operative Abdul Wahid Siddibapa through Advocates Qausar Khan, Prashant Prakash and Ankit Karna.

As the matter was being heard by way of video-conferencing, Advocate M S Khan, appearing for Siddibapa, argued that since the statutory restrictions vested under Section 43(D) of the UAPA were stringent, day-to-day hearing should take place.

“If day-to-day hearing cannot be granted in such a case, then the stringent statutory restrictions under Section 43(D) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act shall be melted and the petitioner be granted bail as Article 21 of the Constitution comes into play,” the Advocate contended.

The stated that he has been suffering prolonged incarceration (about four years and 10 months) and there was no likelihood of the trial being completed anytime in the near future as charges were yet to be framed, while the total number of witnesses to be examined were 363.

“It is obvious that a timely trial would not be possible and the accused has suffered incarceration for a significant period of time,” the plea stated.

By way of instant petition, the appellant is not only seeking bail on the ground of inordinate delay in trial being violative of his fundamental right to have a speedy/free/fair trial, but also directions for day-to-day trial of the cases, as mandated by Section 19 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, it added.

Mr Khan said the appellant and others were facing trial for the offences under the UAPA, besides other offences and despite there being two Special Courts constituted under Section 11 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, the frequency of adjournment was more than a month, thereby causing a substantial delay in the trial of such cases.

He said the main reason for the delay in trial was that the Special Courts, in addition to the matter under UAPA, were also dealing with other matters and having a heavy board.

Time and again, the right to have a speedy trial has been held to be the fundamental right of an accused, as the same directly affects the life and liberty of an accused and with the object of providing a speedy and fair trial to the accused, Section 19 of the National Investigation Agency Act was brought in the statute book, he noted.

The Advocate said the inordinate delay in trial was a violation of the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, as has been held by the Supreme Court/various High Courts, while extending the benefit of bail to the accused facing trial under similar charges/enactments.

According to NIA, the 35-year-old, hailing from Bhatkal town of Karnataka, is a cousin of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal.

The NIA’s FIR lodged in September 2012 said that IM members, in association with other IM sleeper cells based in the country and outside, were conspiring to commit terror acts by making preparations for targeting various important places in India, especially in Delhi, by causing bomb blasts with the active aid and support from their Pakistan-based operatives and associates, thus waging a war against India.

According to NIA, the IM operative was deported in July, 2018 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He was believed to have facilitated the travel of jailed Yasin Bhatkal from Dubai to Pakistan in 2005. NIA described him as the ‘logistic manager,’ who helped in recruitment and finances of IM. He used to pick recruits sent by Riyaz Bhatkal from India to Dubai to help them with logistics. ILNS/ANB/RJ

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