Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and his three aides were granted pre-arrest bail on Monday by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan in a case pertaining to the banned outfit's illegal use of land for its seminary.
Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Lahore, Judge Javed Iqbal Warriach granted pre-arrest bail to Saeed and his three aides -- Hafiz Masood, Ameer Hamza, and Malik Zafar -- until August 3 against the surety bonds of Rs 50,000 each.
Earlier, Dawn newspaper reported that the ATC granted interim bail to the JuD leaders until August 31.
The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) had registered an FIR against Saeed and others for illegally grabbing a piece of land in Lahore and setting up a seminary.
Saeed and other three's counsel Imran Fazal told the court that his clients were not involved in grabbing of the land in question. He termed the allegation baseless.
A lawyer representing the CTD said Saeed and his three aides are involved in land grabbing. "They grabbed the land and set up a seminary there," he said.
Judge Warriach, however, stopped the CTD of Punjab police from arresting Saeed and his three aides in this case till August 3.
According to officials, JuD's network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance service.
In March, Punjab police said that government seized control of 160 seminaries, 32 schools, two colleges, four hospitals, 178 ambulances and 153 dispensaries associated with the JuD and its charity wing the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation in province.
At least 56 seminaries and facilities being run by the JuD and FIF in southern Sindh province were also taken over by authorities in the same month.
In a related development, the Lahore High Court (LHC) issued notices to the federal government, the Punjab government and the CTD on Saeed and his seven aides' petition challenging terror financing charges against them and sought a reply from the respondents till July 30.
A two-member bench of the LHC comprising Justice Shahram Sarwar Chaudhry and Justice Mohammad Waheed Khan asked the parties to submit their replies within two weeks.
A lawyer for the federal government objected to the notices, arguing that the petition was non-maintainable. The court dismissed the objection and adjourned proceedings until July 30.
Saeed's counsel A K Dogar told the court that Saeed and other (petitioners) are not members of Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT) as per the (earlier) judgement of the LHC.
"The petitioners have no nexus with LeT or Al-Qaeda. They belong to JuD and they are not involved in any terrorist activity and they are only working for social welfare like 'Edhi' and more than that they are also educating the poor and the needy," he said.
"The Indian lobby made allegations against them (Saeed and others) that they are involved in Mumbai attacks but there is no such evidence or even any linkage born out from the said documents against the petitioners. There is no evidence that the petitioners are involved in ant-state activities and security risk," Dogar told the court.
The petitioners urged the LHC to declare that they (petitioners) are not linked with the LeT and therefore the CTD's FIRs be declared illegal.
The CTD on July 3 registered 23 FIRs against 13 leaders of the JuD including Saeed on the charges of "terror financing" in different cities of Punjab province.
On Friday, Saeed, who is reportedly living at his Jauhar Town residence in Lahore, and other members of JuD challenged these FIRs in the Lahore high court.
Despite the Punjab Police's claim that all those nominated in the terror financing FIRs will be arrested, no action has been taken against them so far.
Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The United States Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
Under pressure from the international community, Pakistani authorities have launched investigations into matters of the JuD, LeT and the FIF regarding their holding and use of trusts to raise funds for terrorism financing.