Bombay HC upholds NIA court order, grants bail to Areeb Majeed

Areeb Majeed  

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday upheld the order of the specialNational Investigation Agency (NIA) court and granted bail to 27-year-old Areeb Majeed, who was accused of being involved with the Islamic State (IS) terror network.

A division Bench of justices S.S. Shinde and Manish Pitale directed that Mr. Majeed be released on a bond of ₹1 lakh and noted, “He has already undergoneincarceration for more than six years and there is a likelihoodof the trial being delayed for considerable period.”

It is NIA’s case that Mr. Majeed, along with three other absconding accused, had visited Iraq ostensibly for pilgrimage in a group. However, the four men never visited the sites of pilgrimage and instead escaped into Iraq and Syria with the intention of indulging injihadi activities by joining Islamic State for Iraq and Levant (ISIL). As per the NIA, all four men formed a lawful associationwith an intention to promote terrorism in Iraq, Syria and India. They also participated in terrorist activities in Syria and Iraq and they were likely to commit such acts in India also. Mr. Majeed allegedly returned to India with the intention of carryingout such terrorist acts in India, including blowing up the Police Headquarters at Mumbai. On November 29, 2014, the NIA arrested Mr. Majeed, and he is currently lodged at Arthur Road jail.

The court observed, “Mr. Majeed is an educated person, who was completing his graduation in Civil Engineering when he left for Iraq at the age of 21. He categorically stated before us that as a 21-year-old, he was carried away and that he had committed a serious mistake, for which he had already spent over six years behind bars. In the past six years of his incarceration, he has argued his case on his own before the NIA Court. He represented his own case before this Court as well as the NIA Court and we couldfind that he was presenting his case by maintaining decorum andin a proper manner.”

The court also took into account, “His father is a doctor of Unani medicine and his sisters are also doctors. His brother is an engineer. This shows that he comes from aneducated family and that if stringent conditions are imposed upon him, with an undertaking to cooperate with the trial proceedings before the NIA Court, his release on bail may not be harmfulto the society at large and it would not adversely affect the trial proceedings.”

The 37-page judgment said, “There is no dispute about the fact that right to fair and speedy trial is recognised under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court and various High Courts, including this court, have consistently held that the undertrials cannot be allowed to languish for years together in jail, while the trials proceed at snail’s pace. If ultimately, the accused are found to be not guilty, the number of years, months and days spent by such accused as undertrials in jail, can never be given back to them and this is certainly a violation of their valuable right under Article 21 (no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty). The courts are required to perform a balancing act, so as to ensure thata golden mean is reached between the rights of the individual and those of the society at large.”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 10:26:00 AM |

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