Delhi Court Directs NIA to Reply on Engineer Rashid’s Plea by July 1

Engineer Rashid

Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Saturday directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to respond by July 1 to an application filed by newly elected MP Sheikh Abdul Rashid, also known as Engineer Rashid. He was arrested in a 2017 Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case and is seeking interim bail to take the oath as a Member of Parliament (MP).

Engineer Rashid defeated former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Baramulla seat in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Additional Sessions Judge Kiran Gupta has scheduled the matter for a hearing on July 1 and instructed the NIA to file its reply by that date.

Behind Bars, But Elected

During the hearing, the judge noted that the charges against Rashid differed from those faced by AAP leader Sanjay Singh, who is also involved in the Delhi excise “scam” money laundering case. The judge’s observation came after Rashid’s counsel informed the court that Singh had been granted custody parole to swear in as a Rajya Sabha MP recently. The judge granted the NIA’s request for additional time to submit its reply.

Advocate Vikhyat Oberoi argued for Rashid’s release on bail, emphasizing, “He is the elected representative with a substantial majority. People support him and wish for his democratic participation in parliament.”

“It is my constitutional duty to take oath. I am forced to plead before them to take oath. This is truly shameful. The court may direct the jail authorities to contact the Lok Sabha Secretariat, direct the NIA to contact the Lok Sabha Secretariat, or direct the Lok Sabha Secretariat to specify Rashid’s oath-taking date,” the counsel stated.

The newly elected Lok Sabha MPs are set to take oath on June 24, 25, and 26. Rashid has approached the court seeking interim bail, or custody parole alternatively, to take oath and fulfill his parliamentary duties. He has been incarcerated since 2019 following charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the NIA, alleging his involvement in a terror funding case. Currently, he is detained in Tihar jail.

Alleged Involvement in Terror Funding Case

The former MLA’s name emerged during the investigation of Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, whom the NIA arrested for allegedly financing terrorist groups and separatists in the Kashmir valley. The NIA filed a charge sheet against multiple individuals in the case, including Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin. Malik received a life sentence from a trial court in 2022 after pleading guilty to the charges.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte