The Bombay High Court on Friday granted bail to nine citizens of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan accused of violating their visa condition by indulging in "Tabligh Activities" in Gadhchiroli district of Maharashtra.
Justice Manish Pitale of the Nagpur bench was hearing a bail application filed by Batyrov Shukratbek and others who were arrested on April 29 after an FIR was registered at Gadhchiroli police station for offences under Section 14(b) of the Foreigners Act, 1946, as also Sections 3 and 4 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Sections 188, 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code.
Applicants had filed an application for grant of bail before the Sessions Court which was dismissed on May 11, 2020. The Sessions Court refused to grant bail primarily for the reason that the applicants had allegedly attended a religious program at a Masjid in Delhi and they had violated conditions of their Visa as also lock-down conditions imposed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Prosecution filed its reply and emphasized upon the material on record allegedly demonstrating clear violation of conditions of grant of Visa to the applicants, as also violation of lock-down conditions. It was emphasized that if the applicants were released on bail there was every possibility that they would flee the country illegally.
In the application before the High Court, Advocate Firdos Mirza and Advocate MN Ali appeared on behalf of the applicants and submitted that even according to the State, the applicants had arrived in Gadchiroli on or about March 11. He submitted that his clients had immediately intimated the authorities regarding their arrival. It was further submitted that the lockdown was imposed during their stay at Gadchiroli and there was nothing to show that either they had attended the religious congregation at a Masjid in Delhi or anything to show that they had indulged in so-called "Tabligh activities" at Gadchiroli.
Moreover, the applicants were peacefully residing at Gadchiroli and that they have not violated any Visa conditions. In fact their passports are already with the investigating authorities and they are ready to co-operate with the investigation. Appropriate conditions can be imposed for releasing applicants on bail, Mirza argued.
APP AA Madiwale vehemently opposed the bail application contending that the charge-sheet was likely to be filed in the near future and that the investigation was yet to be completed. Also, communications had been addressed to the embassies of both Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan asking for back-ground of the applicants and since the information was awaited and the investigation was yet to be concluded, including details of the CDR and SDR reports of certain mobile phones used by the applicants, the present application deserved to be dismissed, APP Madiwale told the Court.
Justice Pitale observed-
"Having heard the learned counsel for the rival parties and upon perusal of the material on record, it is evident that the applicants have been behind bars since April 29. The applicants are citizens of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan who have arrived in this country on the basis of valid Visas issued to them. Although there is an allegation that the applicants had violated the conditions on which the Visa was issued to them, primarily by engaging in "Tabligh activities", whether such conditions were violated or not would be a matter for trial."
Moreover, Court noted that the applicants were picked-up from Gadchiroli on the aforesaid allegations and thereafter they were kept in quarantine and presently they are continuing in custody-
"The overwhelming reason why the non-applicant State vehemently opposed the present bail application is the apprehension that the applicants would flee the country upon being released on bail. But it is an admitted position that the passports of the applicants are in custody of the investigating authority.
Appropriate conditions can certainly be imposed upon the applicants while releasing them on bail so as to ensure their presence during the pendency of the trial. In fact, in the application itself, it has been stated on behalf of the applicants that they would undertake to stay at the premises of the Darool Uloom Shahi Urdu Arabic School, Kosara, Padoli, Chandrapur, and that they would report to the police station regularly."
Thus, Court decided to allow the bail application on a PR bond of Rs.20000 each and directed the applicants stay at the premises of the Darool Uloom Shahi, Chandrapur, City Police Station, during the pendency of the trial and report to the City Police Station, Chandrapur on every Monday between 10 am and 5 pm during the pendency of the trial.
Click Here To Download Order