Suspected Hizbul terrorist Liyaqat Shah was today granted bail by a Delhi court which said the National Investigation Agency’s investigation "confirms" that there is no substantial linkage regarding his involvement in the conspiracy to carry out terror attacks in the national capital.
"No substantial evidence has come up against the present petitioner till date and the prosecution/NIA has failed to make out a prima facie case against the present petitioner/accused till date," District Judge I S Mehta said.
Further, the NIA investigation also confirms the same that there is no substantial linking against the petitioner/accused being involved in conspiracy to commit terrorist attack on vital installations in Delhi till date," he said.
While the Delhi police had claimed that with Liyaqat's arrest they had foiled a 'fidayeen' (suicide) attack here ahead of Holi, the J-K police insisted that he was one of those who had ex-filtrated in 1990s and returned to India to surrender under the state's rehabilitation policy.
Regarding the allegation by the Delhi police that they had recovered arms and ammunition on the night of March 21-22, 2013 from a guest house in Jama Masjid area at Liyaqat's instance, the court said it was done in the absence of the accused.
"The alleged recovery from the said room is made in the absence of the accused. The carrying out of the search without the knowledge and in absence of the present petitioner/accused creates doubt of petitioner/accused being involved in terrorist activities," it said.
The court granted him bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 20,000 with one surety of the like amount and also imposed some conditions on him, including that he would not leave the country without its prior permission.
"I find it a case to release the present petitioner/accused on bail. Accordingly, petitioner/accused is admitted to bail on his furnishing bail bond in the sum of Rs 20,000 with one surety of like amount with the conditions...."The petitioner/accused shall not leave India without prior permission of this court. The petitioner/accused shall not change his address village Dardpura, PS Lalpora district
Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir without prior permission of this court...shall mark his attendance in local police station on first day of each month till disposal of this case...shall surrender his passport, if any, to NIA," he said. This is perhaps for the first time that an accused has been granted bail by the court in a case being investigated by the NIA.
The NIA had opposed Liyaqat's bail plea and had said that their investigation into the case is going on and detailed examination of call records, examination of witnesses and other "allied activities" are going on to conclusively establish the guilt of the accused.
The probe agency, however, had also said that during their investigation till date, no substantial evidence linking Liyaqat with the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorist attack has been found.
The court granted bail to Liyaqat saying the NIA, which had taken Liyaqat to the Nepal border during its probe, has "reached to the conclusion that there is no linkage of the petitioner/accused's involvement with conspiracy to commit terrorist attack on the vital installations in New Delhi."
The court noted in its order that the NIA, in its reply to Liyaqat's bail plea, has said that "the investigation conducted by Delhi Police or the NIA so far, does not bring forth substantial evidence linking the accused with the crime of conspiring to commit terrorist attack on vital installations in New Delhi."
Fourty-five-year-old Liyaqat was arrested on March 20 by the special cell of Delhi police while crossing the Indo-Nepal border in Gorakhpur with his family. The Delhi police, which arrested him soon after he had crossed the border, had alleged that Liyaqat was involved in the conspiracy to carry out terror attacks on vital installations in the capital.
The home ministry had on March 28 issued a notification facilitating the NIA to take over the case after his arrest had generated conflicting versions from Delhi and J&K police. The court, in its nine page order, noted that the NIA itself had said there was "no substantial evidence" linking Liyaqat with the alleged conspiracy.
"There is no evidence to connect that the alleged recovery was carried out at the pointing out of petitioner/accused to attract section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act. As per the version of the prosecution, the room number of the guest house came into the light on receiving the communication from the handler (allegedly based in Pakistan)," the court said.
During the arguments on the bail plea, Liyaqat's counsel Asim Ali, who was appointed as amicus curie, had told the court that Liyaqat had left Pakistan occupied Kashmir in 1997 and was coming back to India via Nepal under the Rehabilitation Scheme of the Jammu and Kashmir government along with his family members.
Ali had argued that the Delhi police arrested Liyaqat without any fault of his and he was not connected with any crime. He had said the alleged recovery from Jama Masjid area does not connect his client as he was neither residing in the guest house nor present at the time of the recovery. He had alleged that recovery of arms and ammunition was "planted" by the special cell.
The Delhi police had earlier claimed that Liyaqat, during his interrogation, had disclosed that he was coming from the PoK and he has a handler in Pakistan whom he was supposed to communicate after reaching India for further instruction.
The police had alleged that Liyaqat was directed to make a call to the handler and on March 21, the handler told the accused to visit the Haji Arafat guest house at Jama Masjid. On the information received, they visited room number 304 of the guest house and recovered three hand grenades, one AK-56 rifle, map of Delhi and other incriminating materials.
The police had also said that Liyaqat was not present in the guest house at the time of the recovery of the incriminating material.