Delhi High Court grants bail to Muslim man Mohammed Hakim after 12 years of undertrial imprisonment in UAPA case

The Delhi High Court granted bail to Mohammed Hakim who has spent more than 12 years as an undertrial in connection with the 2008 Delhi serial blasts case, saying that the courts must not attend to constitutional rights only after they are dead.

While granting bail to the UAPA prisoner, judges Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani said, “Courts must not play coroner and attend to legal or constitutional rights only after they are “dead‟. Instead we must play doctor, and save such rights from demise before they are extinguished.”

In February 2009, while arresting the Muslim man, the police claimed that Mohammed Hakim is accused of carrying a some quantity of cycle ball-bearings from Lucknow to Delhi and those were later used to make IEDs that were used in the 2008 blasts.

The police arrested him under section of IPC 120B, 121, 121A, 122 and 123 and sec. 4 and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and sec. 16, 18 and 23 of the draconian UAPA.

Delhi High Court also noted that Hakim has “undergone punishment for more than a decade of his life, for an alleged offence for which he has not yet been found guilty…the appellant (Hakim) deserves at least to be given back his liberty after more than 12 long years of imprisonment as an undertrial,” the judges further said.

In this bomb blasts case, nearly 256 witnesses were examined over the past years, and 60 prosecution witnesses are yet to be examined, according to the prosecution.

The Court further said: “The two contrary assumptions are : first, what if the appellant is acquitted. In the event of acquittal, how would the State compensate the appellant for having been robbed of what may have been the most productive and defining decade of his life, at the State‟s instance? Second, even assuming the appellant is ultimately convicted but sentenced to life imprisonment, how would the State compensate him for having negated his entitlement to bail under section 436A Cr.P.C. read with section 57 IPC? We are sure the State has not delved into these contrary assumptions.”

Appearing for Hakim, Senior lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan and lawyer Warisha Farasat argued that his right to a speedy trial is being violated and he deserves to be released on bail during the pendency of the trial. Meanwhile the prosecution argued that Hakim was charged with heinous offences in the blast case in which 135 people were injured and 26 people died.

The prosecution further added that the Supreme Court in judgement of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali has instructed the courts not to enter upon the merits or demerits of the evidence in a UAPA case and deny bail in view of Section 43-D(5) of UAPA.

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