Press Trust of india

Hilal Rather seeks bail citing coronavirus outbreak, HC denies relief

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Jammu: A former Jammu and Kashmir minister’s son, arrested in an alleged bank fraud case, sought bail citing the COVID-19 outbreak, but the high court on Friday rejected his plea saying his apprehension was “misplaced as of now”.

The court also said that Hilal Rather, the son of former minister Abdul Rahim Rather, cannot “leverage” a Supreme Court directive on decongesting jails in view of the pandemic to seek relief as he faces charges of “serious nature”.

“The bail cannot be granted on the mere asking of the accused nor can the accused claim bail as a matter of right. Each case has to be decided on its own merits,” Justice Puneet Gupta said in his order.

Rather had moved the plea on March 4, seeking interim bail on medical grounds and the Supreme Court directive for decongestion of jails across the country in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rather was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Jammu and Kashmir in January in connection with the alleged bank fraud of Rs 177 crore. The case was later handed over to the CBI.

On behalf of the CBI, senior advocate Monika Kohli contended before the court that there was no medical report from the jail authorities to substantiate the claims of the accused that he was facing any medical condition.

Objecting to the plea of the accused, Kohli also contended that his release would be detrimental to the ongoing probe in the case as he could tamper with the witness.

After hearing the arguments from both the sides, Justice Gupta told the lawyer of the accused that the application for interim bail has been rejected.

He said the court is of the view that the accused cannot take any leverage or benefit as the case of the accused is not covered by the directions of the Supreme Court keeping in view the fact that the accused faces charges which are of the “serious nature”.

He said the court found no reason to grant bail to the accused on medical grounds as pleaded in the application.

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