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Funding case: SC stays Watali’s bail order

New Delhi, Sep 14:The Supreme Court Friday stayed a Delhi High Court order that granted bail to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in a case where he was accused of funding militant organisations

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the submissions of National Investigation Agency (NIA) that the release of Watali would cause “grave harm to the ongoing probe” in the funding case.

 

The NIA was represented by Attorney General K KVenugopal and Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh.

The bench has now fixed the plea of NIA filed against the Delhi High Court verdict for hearing on September 26 and asked the accused businessman to file his response in the meantime..

Only Thursday, the Delhi High Court had granted the businessman bail and observed that nothing has been shown to suggest that his trade was “geared toward funding ofmilitant activities”. Watali was arrested by the NIA in a funding case involving militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed among others.

“The documents (seized in the case) do not enable this court to prima facie conclude, as the trial court has in its order stated, that appellant (Watali) received money from A-1 (LeT chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed) or PHC (Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi) or others and was passing on the said funds to the Hurriyat leaders for funding terrorist activities and stone pelting,” the High Court said.

“The court is not satisfied at this stage that there is prima facie material to show the involvement of Watali in any criminal conspiracy with the other accused, justifying the accusations for the offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC or sections 121 (waging or attempting to wage war against India), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war), or 124-A (sedition) of the IPC,” the bench said.

Watali was arrested on August 17, 2017 and chargesheeted by the NIA on January 18 along with the head of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hafiz Saeed, and the head of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Sayeed Salahudeen, along with 10 others.

All the accused were chargesheeted under stringent anti-terror laws, for allegedly hatching a conspiracy with Saeed and Salahuddin to wage a war against India. Earlier, Kamran Yusuf, a photojournalist and Javed Ahmad Bhatt a hawker of home appliances, were granted regular bail after the chargesheet was filed. Only Hafiz Saeed and Salahudeen have not been arrested in the case.