New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to a former Aligarh Muslim University scholar Gulzar Ahmed Wani, an alleged Hijbul Mujahideen operative lodged in jail since 2001 for orchestrating a blast in the Sabarmati Express train in 2000.
The blast in the train was carried out on the eve of the Independence Day when it was on its way from Muzaffarpur to Ahmedabad and was close to Kanpur, claiming ten lives. A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud observed that Wani has suffered incarceration for over 16 years and has been acquitted in nine out of 11 cases lodged against him.
The bench, noted that out of 96 prosecution witnesses, only 20 witnesses have been examined so far and directed the trial court to examine all material witnesses by October 31. “The trial court is directed to complete the exercise of examining the material witnesses by October 31, 2017. Whether the exercise is completed or not, the petitioner (Wani) shall be released on bail from November 1, 2017, on set terms and conditions of the trial court,” the bench said.
The apex court noted that the co-accused of petitioner Wani have been released on bail in 2001. Wani, who was arrested by Delhi Police in 2001 with explosives and incriminating materials, is a resident of Peeparkari area of Srinagar and is currently lodged in Lucknow.
He was pursuing PhD in Arabic from AMU when he was arrested from the national capital on July 30, 2001. The arrest was made in connection with explosives recovered in Delhi. Son of retired government employee Ghulam Mohammad, Wani after completing his studies at Baramullah in Kashmir and come to Uttar Pradesh where he completed his graduation and post-graduation from AMU.
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on August 26, 2015 had denied bail to Wani saying “release of such persons would adversely affect the interest of the society”. Wani had challenged the High Court order before the apex court which had last year directed the trial court to expeditiously examine the material witnesses of the case in six months.
After the blast, Wani was booked under various sections of Railway Act, Indian Penal Code and Explosives Act in the case lodged at GRP police station, Barabanki. The blast had occured on the evening of August 14, 2000.