In what can be described as a shot in the arm for the government and its agencies which are fighting terrorism in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, the apex court cancelled the bail of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, a Kashmiri businessman in a terror funding case. The Supreme Court also made a crucial observation that the NIA has collected enough evidence to show link between the Hurriyat and terror organisations. The Supreme Court bench said, “Ample material has been collected to show the linkages between the Hurriyat leaders of the Jammu and Kashmir and terrorists/terrorist organizations and their continuous activities to wage war against Government of India.”
Earlier, Watali had been granted bail by the Delhi High Court. Watali had been arrested by the NIA in a terror funding case which involved top terrorist and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief, Hafiz Muhammed Saeed. The NIA had filed an appeal against the Delhi High Court verdict granting bail to the accused businessman. The Supreme Court while cancelling the bail granted to Watali stated that the High Court had “adopted an inappropriate approach” by discarding the material and evidence placed before it by the NIA.
The apex Court bench opined that the High Court ought to have taken the entire material into account instead of weighing the evidence. It is interesting to note that at that time of deciding a bail application, the Court is not required to go into the merits of the case. Therefore, the Court only needs to consider the evidence placed before it, but is not supposed to go into the question upon the truth or reliability of evidence placed before it. In fact, the apex court observed, “The elaborate examination or dissection of the evidence is not required to be done at this stage (of grant of bail). The court is merely expected to record a finding on the basis of broad probabilities regarding the involvement of the accused in the commission of the stated offence or otherwise.” The Supreme Court added, “From the analysis of the impugned judgment (of the high court), it appears to us that the high court has ventured into an area of examining the merits and demerits of the evidence.”
Such a verdict could not have come at a better time for the government. This comes at a time when the government has made it a point to crack down on the Hurriyat leaders in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. At such a time, the plans of the government to take on the separatist leaders gets a shot in the arm. With the NIA having furnished enough evidence to expose the linkage between the terror groups and Hurriyat, it is clear that the government can continue its crackdown upon the separatist leaders with greater vigour and intent. It can safely be said that the government’s stance on the issue of Hurriyat has been vindicated to a large extent with this Supreme Court verdict.