Srinagar: Senior PDP leader Waheed Ur Rehman Parra was on Wednesday granted bail after 18 months in a militancy-related case by the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court which said the evidence gathered by the prosecution is “too sketchy” to deny him the relief.
Hearing Parra’s petition, a division bench of justices Vinod Chatterji Koul and Sanjeev Kumar ordered bail against a surety of Rs 1 lakh besides other conditions which include surrendering of his passport.
In its 15-page order, the bench asked him to present himself before the investigating officer as and when required to and not leave Jammu and Kashmir without the prior permission of the trial court.
Parra was first arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on November 25, 2020 and got his bail on January 9, 2021. However, he was never released from jail in Jammu and was arrested by the Criminal Investigation (Kashmir) wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police, which has now been converted to State Investigation Agency (SIA).
“It is an emphatic order which has meticulously dealt with the evidence collected in the case and has come to a prima face conclusion that the allegations are sketchy,” Parra’s counsel Shariq Reyaz said after the judgement.
Parra perhaps became the first person to benefit from the Supreme Court putting on hold trial of cases under section 124 A (Sedition) as the counsel for the accused listed out the recent judgement of the apex court that was also cited in Wednesday’s order.
“Regarding the sedition charges under Section 124-A IPC, the issue is governed by the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the case….whereby the Supreme Court has directed that all the pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to the charge framed under Section 124-A of IPC shall be kept in abeyance,” the court observed.
While granting the relief, the bench said “there is no evidence on record which prima facie shows that Parra’s association with terrorist Yousaf Gadoora was with an intention to further the activities of terrorist organisation”.
“…suffice is to say that in view of facts and circumstances…we are of the opinion that the appellant has made out a case for grant of bail…,” the order said and added that the “the trial court has not appreciated the matter in its true perspective….”
The order also said the “evidence as is gathered by the prosecution is too sketchy to be believed prima facie true, that too, with a view to deny bail to applicant”.
The bench said keeping in view the totality of circumstances and the discussion made hereinabove, “we are of the considered view that this appeal deserves to be allowed. Ordered accordingly. Consequently, order dated 20.07.2021 passed by the Special Judge, NIA Srinagar is set aside and the appellant is admitted to bail.
“…The Superintendent, Central Jail, Srinagar, is directed to release the appellant, provided he is not involved in any other case, after the appellant furnishes before him a personal bond of rupees one lac with a surety of the like amount,” it said.
The court observed that Parra had not been charged under section 15 of the UAPA.
“In the instant case, the appellant is not charged with Section 15 of UAPA Act and, therefore, the reverse burden provision contained in the UAPA Act is not attracted.
“When we view the instant case in the light of settled legal position, we find that the trial court has not exercised the discretion in consonance with the settled legal principles on grant or refusal of the bail.”
Section 15 of UAPA states that whoever does any act with intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India or with intent to strike fear or likely to strike fear in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country.
“As is rightly contended by learned counsel appearing for the appellant that the appellant is charged under Section 18 of UAPA Act read with Sections 120-B and 121-A IPC, but no material or evidence is brought on record by the prosecution to sustain the charge,” the bench added.
“The gravamen of allegation against the appellant is that he was hobnobbing with a member of a terrorist organization with a view to further his political aspirations. The appellant is shown to be a member of mainstream political party i.e Peoples Democratic Party which has remained in power in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir,” it added. PTI