Ex-Ministers Jailed Son Seeks Covid-19 Relief, HC Says No Way

Hilal Rather son of NC leader Ab Rahim Rather- File Pic

Srinagar: A former NC minister’s son, arrested in a bank fraud case, sought bail citing the Covid-19 outbreak, but the High Court on Friday rejected his plea saying his apprehension was “misplaced as of now”.

A bench of Justice Puneet Gupta had on April 20 reserved for orders the plea by Hilal Rather, the son of former minister Abdul Rahim Rather, an accused in the Rs 177 crore bank loan fraud case and dismissed it for “being without merit.”
The court also said that Hilal cannot leverage a Supreme Court directive on decongesting jails in view of the pandemic to seek relief as he faces charges of “serious nature”.

“The bail cannot be granted on the mere asking of the accused nor can the accused claim bail as a matter of right. Each case has to be decided on its own merits,” Justice Puneet Gupta said in his order.

Hilal had moved the plea on March 4, seeking interim bail on medical grounds and the Supreme Court directive for decongestion of jails across the country in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hilal was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Jammu and Kashmir in January in connection with the alleged bank fraud of Rs 177 crore. The case was later handed over to the CBI.

On behalf of the CBI, senior advocate Monika Kohli contended before the court that there was no medical report from the jail authorities to substantiate the claims of the accused that he was facing any medical condition.

She argued that the condition of the accused is stable as per the reports and there is nothing on the record to suggest that the medical condition of the accused can worsen while in jail due to the jail conditions.

Objecting to the plea of the accused, Kohli also contended that his release would be detrimental to the ongoing probe in the case as he could tamper with the witness.

Kohli also strongly opposed the counsel for the accused that he is covered by the directions of the Supreme court issued in view of the spread of COVID-19 and the lock down which is in force and said in any case the charges in which the accused has been booked carry the punishment for more than seven years.

After hearing the arguments from both the sides, Justice Gupta told the lawyer of the accused that the application for interim bail has been rejected.

He said the court is of the view that the accused cannot take any leverage or benefit as the case of the accused is not covered by the directions of the Supreme Court keeping in view the fact that the accused faces charges which are of the “serious nature”.

He said the court found no reason to grant bail to the accused on medical grounds as pleaded in the application.

On the argument of the counsel for the accused that he may get infection from other inmates of the jail due to the prevailing conditions, the court observed that it finds no material on record which substantiates the argument and the apprehension is “misplaced as of now”.

“The jail authorities must be otherwise taking all the measures to keep all in hygienic conditions keeping in view the onslaught of COVID-19. The bail cannot be granted on mere assumption that the conditions in the jail are unhygienic and the accused will suffer for that reason,” the court said while dismissing the application.

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