19 Jun 2023 3:14 PM GMT
The Madras High Court on Monday said that it’ll go through the incriminating audio clip and other materials relied on by the National Investigation Agency for arresting a Madurai-based lawyer Mohammad Abbas. Abbas was one among the five arrested by the NIA in May this year in connection with a criminal conspiracy case related to the banned organization- Popular Front of India (PFI)....
The Madras High Court on Monday said that it’ll go through the incriminating audio clip and other materials relied on by the National Investigation Agency for arresting a Madurai-based lawyer Mohammad Abbas.
Abbas was one among the five arrested by the NIA in May this year in connection with a criminal conspiracy case related to the banned organization- Popular Front of India (PFI). As per the NIA, the arrests were made after conducting extensive searches and finding incriminating materials including sharp-edged weapons, digital devices, and documents.
Abbas has moved the High Court seeking to quash the proceedings against him which, according to him, are a result of some comments he had made on social media against the NIA.
When the case came up for hearing before the bench of Justice M Sundar and Justice R Sakthivel, R Vivekananthan, appearing for Abbas, informed the court that Abbas was being victimized as he used to regularly appear in courts for the PFI. It was also submitted that though the agency came to know about Abbas’s alleged involvement, he was not made a party at the time of filing the chargesheet.
The office bearers of the Madurai Bar Association also submitted that Abbas has been a regular practitioner for the past 16 years and has even contested the Bar Council elections. It was also submitted that bar members were being intimidated by the agency. To this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the NIA said that just because Abbas is an advocate, it does not grant him any protection.
The bench noted that it was not seeking the matter as protection to the Advocate but was only ensuring that the lawyers were not being intimidated by the agency.
“We look at it as the bar being the mother of the bench. A fearless bar is imperative for an independent judiciary. We’re not looking at special treatment for advocates. We’re looking only if there is any intimidation,” the court orally remarked.
Mehta also submitted that the investigation agency had done everything that it needed to do and that there were incriminating materials against Abbas including an audio clip based on which he was arrested. He also informed the court that the agency had to tread carefully since Abbas was a lawyer and thus even though there were materials, he was not named as accused while filing of the chargesheet.
“The Facebook post had nothing to do with the arrest. It may give rise to an allegation of malafide which they are arguing. But he has been arrested based on audio clip and other evidence which the lordships may look into,” Mehta argued.
Mehta also argued that the only ground based on which quashing is being sought is malice. He further submitted that malice in general is not accepted to be a good ground for quashing and is the last resort of a loosing lawyer. He further submitted that malice has to be proved by specific pleadings and facts and that merely saying that the investigation agency is biased would not suffice for malice.
To this, Vivekananthan said that the plea of malice is being raised specifically against the Superintendent of Police. He also submitted that the agency should be asked to produce the materials on which they are relying.
The court then asked the agency to have the audio clip and other materials ready and said that it would look at those materials on June 21.
Case Title: M Mohammed Abbas v State and others
Case No: Crl OP 12229 of 2023