HC relaxes bail condition, allows ‘IS recruit’ to stay in Parbhani
THE BOMBAY High Court earlier this month modified a bail condition of Iqbal Ahmed Kabir Ahmed, an alleged Islamic State (IS) recruit, allowing him to stay in his hometown Parbhani till conclusion of the trial, instead of staying within Greater Mumbai as directed earlier by the HC.
While allowing Ahmed’s plea on July 7, the HC also noted that the Union government has issued a notification on December 12, 2019, extending jurisdiction of the NIA court to entire Maharashtra.
Ahmed was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), among others, for allegedly joining IS. He was arrested on August 7, 2016, by the Maharashtra ATS, which claimed that he was a co-conspirator and part of the IS Parbhani module that was planning to carry out an attack on the Aurangabad ATS. The case was later transferred to the NIA.
Citing that Ahmed’s Right to Life was in jeopardy, the HC had last year granted him bail. It had imposed stringent conditions, including that he cannot leave the jurisdiction of the NIA court in Greater Mumbai till the conclusion of trial without the court’s permission.
After the HC initially refused to relax the bail condition, Ahmed had approached the Supreme Court, which in April, this year, asked the HC to hear his bail plea afresh. Advocate Kritika Agarwal, appearing for Ahmed, told HC that he had travelled to Parbhani several times with permission from the trial court and returned without violating any conditions. She added that Ahmed neither has a place to live in Mumbai nor a job, making it difficult for him to stay in the city considering the high cost of living. Also, his family lived in Parbhani.
Agarwal further said that the trial is likely to take a long time, as till date not a single witness has been examined by the prosecution and there are nearly 250 witnesses.
Referring to the 2019 Union Government notification, Agarwal said the same had extended jurisdiction of the NIA court to entire Maharashtra and therefore, Ahmed can be allowed to live in Parbhani. The NIA counsel opposed the application.
Justice Revati Mohite-Dere noted that not a single witness has been examined by the prosecution till date and Ahmed has followed all bail conditions. “It is also not in dispute that post the said order, the applicant has visited Parbhani on several occasions with permission of the NIA court and attended the trial court on each and every date of proceedings…,” the HC said.
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