New Delhi: Four Muslim youths from Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh along with one Pakistani national were acquitted on Monday, August 5, by the Allahabad High Court in a fake terror case. Two others, who were languishing in jail for the past 19 years in the same case, have also been acquitted.
Those who are acquitted include Ashfaq Nanhey and Mohd Waris, who were awarded life sentence by a trial court in 2007 and were in jail since their arrest in 2000. Three others, Gayyur Ali, Sardar Ali and Mustaqeem were acquitted by the trial court on May 18, 2007. But this was challenged by the government in the High Court, which has now been dismissed.
The HC acquitted all five on the ground that the police had not taken the required sanction from the state government to prosecute them under sedition charges. The irony is that even without the sanction, the trial court had convicted two of them, awarded them life sentence and also slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on May 18, 2007. The convicts challenged the verdict in Allahabad High Court but for next 10 years, their petition was not heard.
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The acquittal order was delivered by the two-member High Court bench of Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Rajendra Kumar. The bench had reserved the order on February 6, 2019 and made it public on Monday, August 5, 2019.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, an organisation of Islamic scholars, had provided legal help to three of the accused - Ashfaq Nanhey, Gayur and Sardar Ali.
Giving details about the case, Mujahid Ahmad, the lawyer representing the accused, told NewsClick, “The FIR was lodged at Kandhla police station (in Muzaffarnagar) on March 31, 2000, based on secret information. The FIR said that one foreigner was given shelter in Ashfaq Nanhey’s home, who belonged to Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohammad, and that they were planning to execute terror acts in the country. On the basis of the FIR, police arrested Ashfaq Nanhey, Mohd Waris, Gayyur Ali, Sardar Ali and Mustaqeem and they were charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 121, 121A, 122, 123, Foreigners Act sections 13 and 14, Passport Act section 3 and Arms Act sections 25 and 27. The trial continued for seven years in the lower court. The court gave its verdict on May 18, 2007. While accused Gayuur Ali, Sardar Ali and Mustaqeem were acquitted of all charges, Ashfaq Nanhey and Mohd Waris were awarded life sentence and a fine of Rs 1 lakh each.”
He further said, “The accused fought their case on their own in the lower court and the convicted also filed an appeal in the HC. But when the hearing did not begin even after 10 years, they approached Jamiat chief Maulana Arshad Madani for legal help. Jamiat appointed me and another lawyer. We went to Allahabad High Court and went through the court records related to the case. We found that the trial court judgement was illegal because the prosecution had charged them even without taking required sanction from the government. We filed a plea in the HC that 10 years have passed and their plea has not yet been heard, so either their plea is heard or they be released on bail. They were not released on bail but the High Court heard the case. The HC said that the lower court order was legally wrong because the case was heard even without sanction. The HC acquitted the convicts and also dismissed the appeal of the UP government filed against those who were acquitted by the trial court.”
‘WHO WILL BRING BACK THOSE 16 YEARS’
“Being in jail for 16 years means that precious years of a person are lost. It is true that my father has got justice and the lies of the agencies were exposed but will this return the lost years of the victims?,” Ghazala, Ashfaq Nanhey’s daughter, asked.
Also read: 11 Muslim Persons Acquitted in False Terror Case After 25 Years in Prison
She said, “All our relatives stopped coming to our house after my father was arrested. The only regular visitors all these years were the police.”
Pointing out an important issue, she said, “Some have been acquitted today, agencies will put behind bars some others in false cases tomorrow and the vicious cycle will continue. For how long will the lives of innocents be played with? Until and unless police and agencies are held accountable and punished for destroying the lives of innocents, people will continue to be arrested and acquitted.”