Terror funding: SC sets aside bail to businessman

Terror funding: SC sets aside bail to businessman

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the Delhi High Court's order of September 13, 2018, which granted bail to a Kashmiri businessman, accused of terror funding and transferring money received from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed to terrorists waging war against the country.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi allowed an appeal filed by the National Investigation Team, which claimed 76-year-old Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali was part of a larger conspiracy to "upturn the establishment to cause secession of Jammu and Kashmir from the country".

The top court agreed to the NIA's contention that the Delhi High Court, "clearly overlooked the settled legal position that, at the stage of considering the prayer for bail, it is not necessary to weigh the material, but only form an opinion on the basis of the material before it on broad probabilities."

It noted there were serious allegations against Watali of being involved in unlawful acts and terror funding in conspiracy with other accused persons.

The NIA led by Attorney General K K Venugopal claimed the accused had acted as a conduit for the transfer of funds received from terrorist Hafiz Saeed and also from a source in Dubai to Hurriyat leaders and other secessionists and terrorists.

The Attorney General had contended the issue of admissibility and credibility of the material and evidence presented by the Investigating Officer including certain diaries showing payments would be a matter for trial.

The top court, which had September 14, 2018, stayed the high court's order, agreed to the trial court's decision dismissing Watali's bail in view of the charges against him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Watali was arrested on August 17, 2017.

The high court had made strong observations against the NIA while granting bail to him. It said nothing was shown to suggest his trade activities were intended towards funding of terrorist activities.