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NIA court grants bail to journalist Asif Sultan

nia court grants bail to journalist asif sultan
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Srinagar, May 15: A special NIA court here granted bail to journalist Asif Sultan Saida in a five-year-old case as it underscored that sufficient time of about two and a half months had been given to the investigating agency for custodial interrogation of the accused and his continuous arrest would not serve any purpose.


After his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) was quashed by the High Court of J&K and Ladakh in December last year, Asif was arrested in FIR No 19/2019 filed at Police Station Rainawari under Sections 147 and 148 (rioting and punishment for rioting), 149 (offence committed by any member of unlawful assembly), 336 (endangering human life) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), besides Section 13 (advocating, abetting or inciting unlawful activity) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).


The court observed: “There can be no dispute at all so far as the investigation into allegations of commission of an offence under the UAPA was concerned that there was compelling state interest in tackling such serious crimes.”


However, it said, the mere use of this statutory provision would not ipso-facto (by that very fact) warrant rejection of applications of bail ignoring the other binding requirements.


“The embargo contained under chapters VI and VI of UAPA is not attracted in the present case,” the court said.


It underscored that it was now well-settled by a catena of decisions of the apex court that the power to grant bail was not to be exercised as if the punishment before trial was being imposed.


The court observed that the occurrence took place more than 5 years ago and sufficient time of approximately two and a half months (72 days) had been given to the investigating agency for the custodial interrogation of the accused.


It said that the accused was already under PSA till February 2024.

Moreover, the court held that it had not been brought to its notice that the conduct of an accused person in judicial custody was such that it did not warrant his release on bail.

Observing that further detention of the accused in custody would not serve any purpose, the court granted Asif bail provided he furnished bail bond to the tune of Rs 1,00,000 with one surety in the like amount.

However, the court imposed certain conditions on Asif while granting him bail.

While the court ordered Asif not to use any secret or encrypted messaging apps or any proxy network (VPNS) to remain “anonymous and circumvent provisions of India Telegraph Act and Indian Wireless Act, it asked him to provide mobile numbers issued in his name along with telecom network to the Investigating Officer and SHO of the concerned police station.

The court asked him to disclose the details of the cellphone device to be used by him (IMEI number and make) to the investigating officer and SHO.

He has been directed not to use any mobile number or device other than the ones disclosed to the Investigating Officer and SHO of the concerned police station.

Besides other conditions, the court directed Asif to seek prior permission from the court and furnish the information to the IO and SHO of the concerned police station in case he wants to buy another mobile handset or a new SIM card in the event of damage, loss, theft or to upgrade it.

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