Acquitted Kashmiri scholar faces jail, SC calls it ‘shame’

Supreme Court on Tuesday said that former AMU research scholar and alleged Hizbul Mujahideen operative Gulzar Ahmad Wani will be released on bail on November 1 if the trial court fails to complete witnesses’ examination by that time.

A new-Delhi based newspaper reported that a bench led by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar has expressed strong displeasure over the fact that Gulzar Ahmad Wani has been kept in custody for the last 16 years despite his acquittal in 10 out of 11 criminal cases.

“Out of 11 cases, he has been acquitted in 10 cases. What a shame! The problem is that you want to keep him inside the jail but not complete the trial. He was acquitted in all other cases,” the bench told the counsel for Uttar Pradesh as he opposed Wani’s release.

The court further noted that the trial moved at a snail’s pace although the apex court had last year directed the conclusion of recording of evidence within six months.

“You seem to be very casual,” the bench told the state government as it set the deadline. Wani, 43, a native of Baramulla in Kashmir who is currently lodged in the Lucknow district jail, has been exonerated in nine cases.

 He was, however, convicted for 10 years for allegedly carrying explosives to trigger a blast in Delhi but his sentence was suspended.

The only pending case against him relates to the Sabarmati Express train blast which was lodged in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district.

The apex court, after perusing records of the case, said that Wani would be released on bail on November 1 if the prosecution failed to record evidence of material witnesses in the Sabarmati Express blast case.

Senior advocate P N Mishra, appearing for Uttar Pradesh government, submitted that the accused has not been in custody in all these years in the present case, relating to the Sabarmati train blast.

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