New Delhi, (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday granted bail to journalist Syed Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi, arrested for his alleged involvement in the Israeli embassy vehicle blast case in which an Israeli diplomat’s wife was injured.
The court also disapproved the procedure adopted by the chief metropolitan magistrate in keeping Kazmi’s application for statutory bail pending and instead extending the time of his detention for further investigation retrospectively. The court also frowned over the high court endorsing the procedure followed by the lower court.
A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice S.S. Nijjar and J. Chelameswar directed that Kazmi be “released on bail to the satisfaction of the chief metropolitan magistrate, upon such conditions as may be deemed fit and proper”.
The court directed Kazmi to surrender his passport, report to the local police station, and not leave the city limits where he would be residing without the permission of the Court, so as to ensure his presence at the time of the trial.
Kazmi was detained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the Feb 13, 2012, blast in an Israeli embassy vehicle blast that took place on Aurangzeb Road-Race Course Road crossing.
Pronouncing the order, Justice Kabir said, “We are unable to appreciate the procedure adopted by the chief metropolitan magistrate, which has been endorsed by the High Court and we are of the view that the appellant (Kazmi) acquired the right for grant of statutory bail on July 17, 2012, when his custody was held to be illegal by the additional sessions judge.”
The court noted that Kazmi’s “application for statutory bail was pending at the time when the application for extension of time for continuing the investigation was filed by the prosecution”.
“In our view,the right of the appellant (Kazmi) to grant of statutory bail remained unaffected by the subsequent application and both the chief metropolitan magistrate and the high court erred in holding otherwise,” the order said.
The order said that Kazmi had “exercised his right to statutory bail on the very same day on which his custody was held to be illegal and such an application was left undecided by the chief metropolitan magistrate till after the application filed by the prosecution for extension of time to complete investigation was taken up and orders were passed thereupon”.”
Assailing the procedure adopted by the CMM, the order said, “Instead of hearing the application, the chief metropolitan magistrate adjourned the same till the next day when the public prosecutor filed an application for extension of the period of custody and investigation and on July, 20, 2012 extended the time of investigation and the custody of the appellant for a further period of 90 days with retrospective effect from June 2, 2012.”
The apex court said: “Not only is the retrospectivity of the order of the chief metropolitan magistrate untenable, it could not also defeat the statutory right which had accrued to the appellant (Kazmi) on the expiry of 90 days from the date when the appellant was taken into custody.
Kazmi had challenged the magistrate court’s order extending his detention by another 90 days retrospectively. Arrested on March 6, he had already completed his first detention of 90 days.Kazmi’s first bail plea moved on March 28 was rejected on April 3. He again twice sought bail June 22, and Aug 13 but both times, the pleas were again dismissed.
The Israeli defence attache’s wife Tel Yehoshua Koren who was travelling in the car was injured in the blast.