After spending five years in Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Jail and facing trial for his alleged involvement in former state home minister Haren Pandya's murder, Hyderabad cleric Moulana Mohammed Naseeruddin has been granted bail by the Supreme Court.
A division bench comprising Justice M Katju and Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguli granted bail to the Moulana after a seven month long proceeding in the apex court.
Granting a conditional bail, the SC asked the Moulana to deposit his passport with the court and mark his attendance in a police station near his residence in Hyderabad at least once a month.
The apex court also chided Hementika Wahi, the counsel for the Gujarat government, for dilly-dallying while replying to the notices issued by the bench on Naseeruddin's bail petition. Kamini Jaiswal, counsel for the petitioner, argued that despite the SC issuing three notices to the Gujarat government, the latter had not notified the replies, which was a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.
She also argued that in the criminal conspiracy case which is currently going on in the Prevention Of Terrorism Act court, the Gujarat government could not produce any evidence or witnesses.
Wahi opposed the bail petition, claiming that Moulana Naseeruddin's release on bail would affect the trial, which was nearing the end. The counsel argued that the other accused will also approach the court to seek bail.
Rejecting the arguments, the bench asked what was wrong if people approach the Supreme Court for justice. "Should we close down the Supreme Court," asked Justice Katju.
Khalid Shaikh, another counsel for the petitioner, said that Moulana Naseeruddin was likely to be released by September 9 after completing all the legal formalities and fulfilling the conditions of the bail.
It may be recalled that a team of the Gujarat police, led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Narender Amin, had arrested Moulana Naseeruddin in Hyderabad on October 21, 2004, During the arrest, Mujahid Saleem, a supporter of Moulana Naseeruddin, was killed in the firing.
While Narender Amin is currently lodged in an Ahmedabad jail in connection with the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin and his wife, the Hyderabad police has booked a case against him in connection with the death of Mujahid Saleem.
Moulana Naseeruddin was initially arrested by the Gujarat police on the charges of instigating the killers of Pandya, and he was subsequently booked in the Ahmedabad conspiracy case.
Haren Pandya was killed on March 26, 2003 in the Law Garden area of Ahmedabad while he was out for a morning walk.
While Naseeruddin was incarcerated in Ahmedabad jail, his three sons were also arrested for their alleged terror links. His youngest son Nasir was arrested by the Karnataka police for his alleged involvement in plotting the terror attacks, while his other sons Jabir and Yasser were imprisoned in Indore jail for their alleged terror links.