A Delhi Court on Thursday dismissed the bail application of Kashmiri separatist leader Shabbir Shah in a money laundering case related to alleged terror funding in Kashmir, saying the prosecution cannot be blamed for delay on account of COVID-19.
Special Judge Dharmender Rana however directed the Enforcement Directorate to expedite the trial.
"The trial would have been swiftly concluded by now but because of the pandemic and the suspended functioning of the courts, the trial is taking some time.
"However, prosecution cannot be blamed for delay on account of such catastrophe. 'Ultra posse nemo obligatur', i.e. No one is obligated beyond what he is able to do," the judge said.
In the order, the judge noted that some crucial witnesses were yet to be examined in the matter and the apprehension of the prosecution that the applicant might try to influence the course of trial could not be brushed aside lightly.
"Considering the nature of allegations and past criminal antecedents of the applicant accused, I am of the opinion the bail application is bereft of any merits and the same is accordingly dismissed," the judge said.
He added that, however, the concerns of the accused for expeditious trial needed to be addressed.
"I accordingly deem it appropriate to prepone the matter," the judge said and posted the matter for August 3, observing that 'it is expected that by first week of August normalcy would return and normal functioning of the courts shall be resumed'.
Advocate M S Khan, appearing for Shah, had moved the bail application, claiming there was no likelihood of the trial being completed any time soon in the money laundering case due to the current pandemic situation.
ED's Special Public Prosecutor N K Matta had opposed the bail application, claiming that Shah was involved in generation of huge proceeds of crime from Pakistan and other countries to create unrest in Kashmir.
According to the prosecution, in August 2005 case, the special cell of Delhi Police had arrested one Ahmed Wani, an alleged hawala dealer, claiming that Rs 63 lakh were recovered from Wani, of which Rs 52 lakh were allegedly to be delivered to Shah.
According to the prosecution, Wani had claimed that he had given Rs 2.25 crore to Shah.
The ED had later registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Shah and Wani in 2007.