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Delhi HC questions trial court order extending probe period in Salahuddin’s son’s case

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New Delhi, Apr 25 :The Delhi High Court today questioned a trial court’s order extending the period of investigation in a “terror funding” case, allegedly involving Syed Shahid Yousuf, son of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.

The high court said that a special judge has no power to extend the period of investigation in a case and it only has the power to extend the judicial custody of the accused.

“What business a judge has to say that the period of investigation is 180 days for completion of probe,” a bench of justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta said.

The court’s remarks came while hearing the bail plea of Yousuf whose counsel said he was a government employee and was posted as agricultural assistant in Budgam of central Kashmir when he was arrested by the NIA on October 24 last year.

The accused challenged the trial court’s two orders of February and March — rejecting him bail and extending judicial custody.

The counsel said Yousuf’s only crime was that he was son of a person who was also an accused in the case and the allegations against him are that he was a “terrorist”. The allegations were that Yousuf received money from his father which was “terror fund” and purportedly sent from Pakistan, advocate Rajat Kumar said.

The NIA, however, opposed the plea saying it was not maintainable and there can be no appeal against an interlocutory order passed by the trial court.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya, representing the NIA, said the application filed in the trial court by the agency was badly worded and it had submitted that as its investigation could not be completed in 90 days, it required the custody of the accused for completion of the probe.

The bench, however, said it was clearly mentioned in the NIA’s application that it was seeking extension of time to complete the investigation and the trial court also allowed its prayer and extended the time to complete the probe by 180 days.

“How can the court pass this order? You made a wrong prayer and the judge also allowed it without applying its mind. I don’t think, any judge can control the period of investigation. What is worrying us is not only your (NIA) mistake but that our judicial officers mistake,” the bench said.

It added that the statutes, especially relating to terror matters, should be taken lightly and the agencies and prosecutors should apply their minds.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on May 02.

Forty-two-year-old Yousuf is in judicial custody and his bail plea was dismissed by the trial court here on March 07.

He had sought bail saying that he was not required further by the investing agency and no purpose will be served by keeping him in custody.

The NIA had earlier alleged that the accused had links with proscribed militant organisations like Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

The NIA had on April 20 filed a charge-sheet before the trial court and charged Yousuf with indulging in unlawful activities and raising funds for militant operations in a 2011 case.

The final report has alleged that Yusuf had “hatched a conspiracy to received funds from Pakistan through hawala channels to spread terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir”. The NIA has accused him of committing various offences punishable under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The NIA had earlier said that the case was registered on the basis of information regarding funds from Pakistan being sent to Jammu and Kashmir through hawala channels via Delhi “to spread terrorism”.

The NIA had in 2011 arrested several persons including Ghulam Mohammad Bhat with Rs 21.2 lakh, alleging that Yousuf was “one of the several Indian contacts of Bhat” who had been in touch with him for receiving money transfer codes.

It had alleged that Yousuf’s involvement was found in collecting funds from a militant outfit in Saudi Arabia as well as from other accused on directions of his father Mohammad Yousuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin, self-styled supreme commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

Syed Salahuddin was declared a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by the US Department of State in June last year.

The NIA has claimed that so far Yousuf has received a total of nearly Rs 4.5 lakh through eight international wire transfers.

It had also registered two other cases related to terror funding — one in November 2011 and the other in May 2017. It had filed a charge-sheet against 10 people including Salahuddin in the April 2011 case.

In the recent case, the NIA arrested various people including some close relatives and aides of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

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