SC stays HC order granting bail to suspected LeT operative

New Delhi, Dec 3 (PTI) The Supreme Court has stayed the Bombay High Court's order granting bail to an alleged member of banned terror outfit Lashkar-­e-­Taiba (LeT) after the NIA said that the nation's security might be affected if the accused is allowed to be at large.

The apex court said that National Investigation Agency (NIA) is at liberty to re-arrest Mohammed Irfan Gaus, the accused who was granted bail by the high court in July this year, in connection with an alleged terror case.

The probe agency has alleged that Gaus, who was arrested in August 2012, was a member of LeT along with other accused and they had conspired and conducted recce at Nanded and Hyderabad for commission of terrorist act.

A bench comprising justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for NIA, that trial in the case was almost at the verge of completion and if Gaus was allowed to be at large, it would be difficult to secure his presence at the time of judgment.

'Considering the fact that the trial of the case is almost at the verge of completion and the facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be stay of the impugned order until further orders from this court,' the bench said in its order on Monday.

'In view of an interim stay granted by this court, the petitioner-National Investigation Agency is at liberty to re-arrest Mohammed Irfan Gaus and take him to custody,' the bench said.

The top court issued notice to Gaus on the NIA's plea and posted the matter after three weeks.

During the arguments, Mehta said that considering the seriousness of allegations against the accused, if he is allowed to be at large 'there is likelihood of recurrence of commission of offence which might affect the security of the nation.' The top court passed the order while hearing an appeal filed by NIA challenging the high court order granting bail to Gaus.

Mehta told the apex court that 72 witnesses have been examined in the trial and only two official witnesses were left to be examined.

The high court had granted him bail while considering that the accused was behind the bars as an under trial prisoner for a period of about seven years.

Gaus had approached the high court challenging the trial court's order denying him bail and had said that there was no iota of evidence to implicate him in the crime and none of the prosecution witnesses have deposed anything against him.

Initially, the Anti-­Terrorist Squad of Maharashtra had filed a charge sheet in the case for the alleged offences punishable under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act.

It had alleged that accused had knowingly facilitated and conspired with other LeT members for commission of terrorist act by participating in a meeting in July 2012.

The case was later transferred to the NIA in 2013.

The accused are facing trial for alleged offences of indulging in conspiracy for commission of terrorist act, for being a member of LeT and offences relating to membership of a terrorist organization. PTI ABA MNL SA