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POTA court grants bail to Godhra accused
December 02, 2003 21:36 IST
A special Prevention of Terrorism Act court on Tuesday granted bail to the sitting councillor of Godhra municipality Salim Abdul Gaffar Sheikh, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the train carnage of February 27 last year.
Sheikh, who is also one of the leading businessmen in the sensitive town, was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 25,000 and two solvencies of Rs 15,000 each by judge Sonia Gokani.
After Siraj Jamsa, who was bailed out on grounds of illness, Sheikh is the first accused in Godhra train carnage to be released on bail on 'merits'.
Sheikh was arrested by the Special Investigation Team probing the train carnage from his house in Railway Colony area on March 13 last year after one of the witnesses alleged in a police statement that he had 'seen the councillor at the spot of incident, armed with lethal weapons'.
Defence advocate R K Shah argued the witness has not identified Sheikh despite he being a well-known figure and ex-vice president of the municipality.
Shah also contended that as per the voters' list of the Railway Colony area, where Sheikh stays, there are eight persons with name Salim Sheikh and the witness has not specified which Sheikh he was referring to.
It has been a roller coaster legal ride for Sheikh before getting bail today. Earlier a Godhra local court had rejected his bail plea following which he moved the Gujarat high court in September this year.
The high court on July 4 this year had granted Sheikh and four others bail but stayed their release from the jail for four weeks to allow the state government to file a special leave petition.
The Gujarat government challenged the high court's order in the Supreme Court, which ruled that the accused must 'move the proper forum' since the anti-terror law has been invoked in the case and a designated court has been set up.
Sheikh then moved the bail plea at POTA court on November 18, which heard it on November 21.
The court directed Sheikh to surrender his passport and not leave Godhra without prior permission.
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