The Karnataka High Court granted bail to Saleem Khan, who was charged with violating the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), ruling that simply attending jihadi gatherings and purchasing training materials does not constitute a terrorist act prima facie.
Saleem Khan is a suspected member of Al-Hind, a terrorist organisation that has been linked to terrorist actions. Saleem Khan was granted bail by a court of Justice B Veerappa and Justice S. Rachaiah.
The bench while granting bail said, “Merely attending meetings and becoming Member of Al-Hind Group, which is not a banned organization as contemplated under the Schedule of UA(P) Act and attending jihadi meetings, purchasing training materials, and organizing shelters for co-members is not an offence as contemplated under the provisions of section 2(k) or section 2(m) of UA(P) Act.”
On the 10th of January 2020, the Suddaguntepalya Police Station in Karnataka filed a FIR under sections 153A, 121A, 120B, 122, 123, 124A, and 125 of the Indian Penal Code, as well as sections 13, 18, and 20 of the UAPA, against 17 accused.
One of the defendants in this lawsuit is Saleem Khan. On December 29, 2020, a special NIA court denied Saleem Khan and second accused Mohammad Zaid’s bail request.
The defendants then went to the Supreme Court. In response to this argument, special public prosecutor P Prasanna Kumar argued that the charge sheet shows that the accused Saleem Khan and Mohammad Zaid attended several conspiracy meetings with the prime accused Mehboob Pasha in this case, and that they are directly involved in the crimes charged against them.
The National Investigation Agency re-registered the FIR against 17 people on January 23, 2020. The accused took their case to the high court after the Special NIA court denied their bail applications in a judgement dated December 29, 2020.
“Section 18A deals with imparting training in terrorism and section 20 deals with punishment for being a member of terrorist gang or organization. In the present case, the prosecution has not produced any material, as could be seen on examination of the charge sheet, against accused Saleem Khan about his involvement in a terrorist act or being a member of a terrorist gang or organization or training terrorism.”
The court further added, “admittedly, Al-Hind Group is not a terrorist organization as contemplated under section 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Protection) Act, thereby the prosecution has failed to prove the prima facie case for rejection of bail against accused Saleem Khan. Therefore, the trial Court is not justified in rejecting the bail application filed by the accused.”
A constitutional court cannot be barred from providing bail to the accused in the absence of a prima facie case, according to the court. The court ordered that Saleem Khan, the accused, be released on bail after posting a Rs. 2 lakh bond.
However, the court denied bail to Md Zaid, the court observed that, he is associated with accused no. 1 for contacting unknown ISIS handlers through ‘Dark Web’.
“He is associated with the accused Mehboob Pasha for contacting unknown ISIS handlers through the dark web. ISIS is a banned organization as contemplated under the schedule of the UAPA. Accused Mohammad Zaidi was part of the terror group and was involved in furthering the activities of ISIS in India and assisted the prime accused Mehboob Pasha in communicating with the ISIS handler through the dark web and thus committed the punishable offence. Therefore he is not entitled to the discretionary relief of bail.”