J&K HC Grants Bail To PDP’s Waheed Parra

Srinagar- The Division Bench of J&K High Court Wednesday granted bail to J&K Peoples Democratic Party leader (PDP) Waheed ur Rehman Para and directed his immediate release provided he is not involved in any other cases.

Para had been facing incarceration since past two years in two FIR’s registered against him. He was charged under section 13, 17,18,38,39,40 the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) alongwith section 120-B, 121A, 124-A of the IPC.

He had moved for his bail before the special court in 2021 which had been granted in one FIR while in a subsequent FIR his bail plea had been rejected.

Waheed was challenging the said rejection order in an appeal before the Division Bench of the High Court.

After hearing the counsel of both sides at length, the High Court bench in its detailed judgement pronounced that “When we view the instant case in the light of settled legal position, we find that the trial Court has not exercised the discretion in consonance with the settled legal principles on grant or refusal of the bail”.

The court further observed that the even though the appellant is charged under Section 18 of UAPA Act read with Sections 120-B and 121-A IPC, but no material or evidence is brought on record by the prosecution to sustain the charge.

The order further observed that notwithstanding the investigations being complete and final report already submitted, neither the names of the conspirator are vividly given, nor any evidence of prior concert is indicated anywhere in the final report.

Elaborating further, the judgement says “While most of the statutes require recording of an opinion by the Court that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of the alleged offence, UAPA Act requires recording of an opinion by the Court deciding the bail that there are grounds for believing that accusation against such person is prima facie true. In the instant case the evidence assembled by the Investigating Agency and relied upon by the prosecution to prosecute the appellant even if accepted as it is without any denial or rebuttal by the appellant, is not such on the basis of which the Court can formulate an opinion that the allegations proved during the investigation are prima facie true. The evidence as is gathered by the prosecution is too sketchy to be believed prima facie true, that too, with a view to deny bail to the appellant,”

With regard to the sedition charges under section 124-A framed against Para, the judgement applies the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of S.G. Vombatkere vs. Union of India, 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 470, whereby the Supreme Court has directed that all the pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to the charge framed under Section 124-A of IPC shall be kept in abeyance.

On charges of Sec-38, 39 & 40 of UAPA which relates to membership of a terrorist organisation and raising funds for a terrorist organisation, the court was of the view that just because it is alleged that Para was seen in the company of one Yousuf Gadoora, an over ground worker of a proscribed outfit the final report has nothing believable on record to demonstrate that the appellant has supported any terrorist organization with an intention to further activities of such organization.

The court further elaborated that simply because the appellant has been seen on some occasions with a person with doubtful credentials cannot itself lead to the conclusion that the appellant is either a member of a terrorist organization or is lending support to such organization with an intention to further its activities and in no way goes on to attract the stringent UAPA laws.

Keeping in view the totality of circumstances, the court accordingly allowed his appeal and consequently set aside the order dated 20.07.2021 passed by the Special Judge, NIA Srinagar, and admitted Para to bail in connection with FIR No.31/2020 registered in Police Station, CIK Srinagar on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh with a surety of like amount.

The court also directed the Superintendent, Central Jail, Srinagar, to release Para, provided he is not involved in any other case.

Mehbooba, Lone Welcome Para’s Bail

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti welcomed High Court’s decision to grant bail to party’s youth leader Waheed Para who was arrested in November 2020 by the National Investigation Agency in a militancy-related case.

Finally after almost two years, Waheed Para gets bail & I hope he walks out as a free man soon. Would like to thank his lawyer Shariq for fighting his case with such conviction & determination, Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.
People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone described the bail order as a good news.

What good news that Waheed Parra has been granted bail. My ex jail mate and youthful friend. He has been through tough times. I am so happy for him and his family. May Allah bless him, Lone said in a tweet.

Lone and Para, along with others, were detained at a SKICC which had been turned into a sub-jail in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

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Basit Amin Makhdoomi

Basit Amin Makhdoomi covers court and legal matters for Kashmir Observer.

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