Granting bail to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, who was arrested by the NIA in a terror-funding case, the Delhi High Court had cautioned that the trial court should scrutinise the material with extra care when serious offences like stringent anti-terror laws inviting grave consequences are involved. The Supreme Court stayed the High Court order on Friday.
On Thursday, the HC bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel had said, “What the trial court certainly should not do is to proceed merely on the statements of the investigating agency because if it does so, it would be acting merely as a post office of the investigating agency and this would do more harm to meet the challenge arising out of terrorist activities rather than deterring terrorist activities.”
The bench had rubbished the NIA’s claim that the statements of several persons showing his involvement in the crime were not relevant nor needed to be disclosed in the interest of justice. “The… statements recorded not being provided to the appellant, not having been discussed in the charge-sheet, and with those statements not having been examined by the trial court while passing the order, the prosecution i.e. the NIA cannot rely on such statements in this court to oppose the grant of bail to Watali,” it had said.
It had also rejected the NIA’s contention that there were documents showing that money had been received by Watali and transmitted by him to Hurriyat leaders. “…Nothing has been shown to this court from the entire bunch of documents which would suggest that these trade activities were geared toward funding of terrorist activities, as alleged in the charge-sheet,” the bench had said.
It had also ruled out the NIA’s theory that Watali received money from Saeed, ISI of Pakistan, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and from a source in Dubai and then remitted money to Hurriyat leaders. It had concluded that there were no reasonable grounds to form an opinion at this stage that the accusations against Watali under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were prima facie true.