Rashid Paul

Sketchy Evidence: HC grants bail to Waheed Parra

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Directs him to surrender his passport, make himself available before IO, as and when required, appear before the trial Court on each and every hearing

Srinagar: J&K and Ladakh High Court Wednesday granted bail to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) youth leader Waheed-ur-Rehman Para.

The court allowed an appeal by Para through his counsel against the rejection of his bail plea on 20th  last year by the special judge designated court under the NIA Act in case in FIR No.31/2020. The FIR was registered in Police Station, CIK Srinagar under Sections 13, 17, 18, 38, 39 & 40 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA Act) and Sections 120-B, 121, 121-A & 124-A IPC.

Para was arrested in 2020 but was released on bail by the Special Judge NIA Jammu on 9 January 2021. Before he could be released on bail he was rearrested instantly in connection with another case (FIR No. 31/2020).

A division bench comprising Justices Sanjeev Kumar and Vinod Chatterji Koul who heard the bail application of Para said “the evidence as is gathered by the prosecution against (Parra) is too sketchy to be believed prima facie true, that too, with a view to deny bail to the appellant (Para)”.

“Viewed from any angle”, the bench said “the evidence assembled by the Investigating Agency and relied upon by the prosecution to prosecute the Para even if accepted as it is without any denial or rebuttal by the appellant (Para), is not such on the basis of which the Court can formulate an opinion that the allegations proved during the investigation are prima facie true”.

The court said the gravamen of allegation against Para, is that he was hobnobbing with a member of a militant organization with a view to further his political aspirations.

Para, it observed, is shown to be a member of mainstream political party PDP which has remained in power in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.

The court said “on the close scrutiny of the material placed on record in the shape of statements of various witnesses,, the prosecution appears to have prima facie established that Para was meeting with and was seen in the company of one Yousaf Gadoora, an over-ground worker of a militant outfit.

Whether this meeting was aimed at supporting the militant organization by providing funds and other logistics is not substantiated by any of the statements of the witnesses recorded during investigation, the court observed.

It said “there is no evidence on record which, prima facie, shows that the association of the appellant (Para) was with an intention to further the activities of (militant) organization.”

Keeping in view the totality of circumstances, the court finally allowed the appeal.

Consequently, the order dated 20th of July 2021 passed by the Special Judge, NIA Srinagar was set aside and the appellant Para was admitted to bail in connection with FIR No.31/2020 registered in Police Station, CIK Srinagar.

The court directed the Superintendent Central Jail Srinagar to release Para, “provided he is not involved in any other case”, after furnishing personal bond of rupees one lakh with a surety of the like amount.

The court also asked Para to make himself available before the Investigating Officer of the case, as and when required to do so.

He has also been asked not to leave Jammu and Kashmir without prior permission of the trial Court, surrender his passport before the Investigation Officer and appear before the trial Court on each and every hearing of the case.

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