Delhi HC Grants Bail to Alleged Indian Mujahideen’s Co-Founder in UAPA Case

Indian Mujahideen

The Delhi High Court has granted bail to Abdul Subhan Qureshi, co-founder of the banned terror organization Indian Mujahideen (IM), in a terror case. Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain considered the period of incarceration undergone by him, which was around five years, and directed that the terms and conditions of the bail would be decided by the trial court.

“In case there is any violation of any condition imposed by the trial court or appellant (Qureshi) attempts to threaten or influence any witness, directly or indirectly, or attempts to delay the trial, it would be open to prosecution to seek cancellation of bail, without any reference to this court,” the bench stated.

Bail in UAPA Case Dismissed

The court passed the order while granting an appeal by Qureshi challenging a trial court’s December 2023 order, wherein his plea seeking bail in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case was dismissed. He sought bail under section 436-A of the CrPC, which stipulates that an undertrial prisoner (UTP) has the right to seek bail upon serving more than one-half of the maximum possible sentence on their personal bond.

Advocates Prashant Prakash and Quasar Khan, representing Qureshi, urged the court to grant bail to the accused on the grounds of prolonged undertrial detention. They submitted that he has been in custody for nearly five years awaiting trial, constituting half of the prescribed punishment period for the alleged offense, which is seven years.

The lawyers stated that charges have already been framed against the accused for alleged offenses under section 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (punishment for the offense), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, and under section 10 (penalty for being a member of a banned association) and 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of the UAPA. According to the prosecution, Qureshi remained an active member of IM and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Raid During Press Conference

The prosecution’s case was that on September 27, 2001, SIMI was banned by the Central government, and on the same night, the Delhi Police received information regarding a press conference being held by the organization in Zakir Nagar. It stated that a raid was conducted at the office of SIMI in Zakir Nagar where the press conference was taking place, and the members of the organization were raising slogans against the Indian government for banning it. Some members of the organization were arrested from the spot, and some others, including Qureshi, fled, and several incriminating items were seized there, the prosecution said. He was arrested by the Delhi Police in the case on June 1, 2019.

The prosecutor opposed the plea, stating that the accused was earlier declared a proclaimed offender and was arrested in this case only after being apprehended in another case. He claimed that there are four other matters in which Qureshi continues to be in judicial custody.

The court stated that merely because the allegations against the accused are serious in nature, it cannot be taken as the sole ground for declining the relief provided under Section 436-A CrPC. “We are also conscious of the fact that all his co-accused in the present case are already on bail, and the case is at the stage of recording of prosecution evidence in which 8 witnesses have been examined.

“There are 53 cited prosecution witnesses and therefore, it cannot be said that the trial is likely to be concluded in the near future,” the bench said.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte