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SC Judge Justice Dipankar Datta Recuses From Hearing Bail Pleas of Two Persons Facing UAPA Charges For Alleged Islamic State Links

Awstika Das
1 Feb 2023 11:02 AM GMT
SC Judge Justice Dipankar Datta Recuses From Hearing Bail Pleas of Two Persons Facing UAPA Charges For Alleged Islamic State Links

Supreme Court judge Dipankar Datta on Wednesday recused himself from hearing an appeal against Karnataka High Court’s decisionto deny bail to two terror accused with Islamic State links. Both applicants were arrested by the National Investigation Agency for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy to radicalise and recruit impressionable young Muslims to join the proscribed militant organisation. A bench of Justices Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta were slated to hear the appeal, but Justice Datta decided to recuse himself.

“List before another bench of which Justice Dipankar Datta is not a part, after two weeks.”, the bench ordered.

The bench was hearing the petitions filed by Irfan Nasir and Zuhab Hameed Shakeel Manna alias Zohaib Manna.

Irfan Nasir, a rice merchant, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency in October 2020 and Zohaib Manna in November 2021. Although a resident of Bengaluru, Manna had moved to Saudi Arabia to earn a living and was nabbed by Indian authorities the moment he set foot on Indian soil after being deported from Saudi Arabia.

NIA claimed that Manna was a key conspirator in the network of radicals who encouraged and facilitated Muslims wanting to migrate to Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State.

Nasir and Manna were slapped with charges of criminal conspiracy and waging war against an Asiatic power in alliance with the Indian government under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Sections 17, 18, and 18B of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 were also pressed into service. Since their arrest, both terror accused have been in judicial custody.

After the initial 90 days, a report was submitted by the investigating officer for an extension of Manna’s custody by another 90 days, to which the terror accused filed an objection. Besides objecting to the proposed extension of judicial custody on the ground that the agency had failed to file a charge-sheet within 90 days, Manna also filed an application seeking his release on the grant of bail under Sub-section (2) of Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which provides for time limits on the period of remand of the accused that is proportionate to the seriousness of the offence committed. However, in February 2022, the application for default bail was rejected by a special court and his custody was extended. This ruling was confirmed by a single-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court, following which the accused preferred an appeal before the top court.

On the other hand, Nasir approached the Karnataka High Court after a Bengaluru special court rejected his application for bail under Section 439 of the Code of Civil Procedure. However, this appeal was dismissed by a division bench on the ground that a prima facie case could be discerned from the material on record. The matter has also travelled to the Supreme Court on appeal.

Case Title

  1. Zuhab Hameed Shakeel Manna @ Zohib Manna @ Zuhaib Manna v. The National Investigating Agency [SLP (Criminal) No. 5843 of 2022]
  2. Irfan Nasir @ Irfi v. Investigating Officer, National Investigating Agency [SLP (Criminal) No. 7125 of 2022]
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