No crime to speak about injustice against Muslims: Bombay HC

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court observed that it is not a crime to sit at a street corner and discuss injustice against Muslims. The Court made this comment while hearing the bail petition of Iqbal Ahmed, a Muslim youth arrested under the charge of being a member of the “Islamic State”.

Justice S. S. Shinde said that it is not a crime to discuss such a topic. People in small towns sit at street corners and discuss politics from“Gally” to Delhi and from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. People in small towns are engaged in such discussion across the country which is not a crime

Speaking during the bail petition before the bench of Justices S S Shinde and J N Jamadar, the counsel for the accused senior advocate Meher Desai informed the Court that in spite of five years incarceration after the arrest the hearing in the accused case has not commenced. There is nothing in the charge sheet which say that the accused made bomb or involved in any kind of illegal activities.

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The accused counsel pleaded that it is not a crime to speak about the injustice against the Muslims. About the “Bai’at” (Allegiance vow) found in the accused home, the counsel said that it has been written by the other accused Rais Ahmed. The counsel said that the legal status of the allegiance vow is “zero”.

Desai informed the Court about the recent rulings of the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court to release the accused after five years in jail when no trial was held and sought the release of the accused in the current case.

The NIA’s counsel advocate Aruna Pai informed the court that the accused persons used to talk about injustices against the Muslims in and outside the country and they wanted to take revenge. Interrupting her pleading, Justice Shinde observed that it is not a crime to engage in such talk as people in small towns sit at street corners and discuss such topics.

Aruna Pai informed the Court that the accused persons were planning to carry out bomb blasts across the country. She pleaded that the case of all the accused must be heard in a single trial and that the Iqbal’s case must no be heard separately. She said that the “allegiance vow” was recovered from his house and the alleged bomb making was also taken place there as alleged to have told by the other accused Nasir Yafai and Shahid Khan in their statements.

Pai suggested that instead of releasing the accused on bail, the Court must transfer the case to a lower court with an instruction to complete its trial within six months. Answering her, Justice Shinde said that, in the past, such instructions were given to the lower courts but they failed to complete the trials in the given time.

At the conclusion of the pleadings by both the counsels, the Court has reserved its judgment.

The Jamiatul Ulema Maharashtra (Arshad Madani) has engaged senior advocate Meher Desai to plead the accused Iqbal Ahmed case. He is assisted by his junior adocate Shahid Nadeem, Advocate Kartika Agarwal and Advocate Qurban.

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