Supreme Court admits SLP in the NIA closed Makkah Masjid blast case

Hyderabad: Months after the Telangana High Court dismissed a writ petition filed by the kin of two victims of the Makkah Masjid blast who sought to challenge Section 21 (5) of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, the Supreme Court took up a Special Leave Petition and sent notices to respondents.

Section 21(5) of said act puts an absolute bar on appeals after a period of 90 days. In the case of another criminal appeal, against the acquittal of the accused in the Makkah Masjid Blast case, also filed by the same appellants, there was a delay of over 90 days in preferring the appeal.

In an order dated, April 26, 2021, the Telangana High Court did not entertain the appeal. The court stated that the Supreme Court was dealing with a matter similar in nature. It was after this that the kin of the victims moved the Supreme Court.

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By means of the petition, the kin of the victims are seeking that Section 21(5) of the NIA Act be declared as ultra vires, and contend that it is contrary to Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

The advocate for petitioners S Prasanna contended in the SLP that the first appeal is ‘extinguished when the 90 day period lapses/expires’ on account of the provisio. He also cited in the SLP, Sita Ram v. State of UP in which the importance of an appeal was recognised. Due to the provisio, the power of the court to condone the delay is taken away, he contended.

It was May 18, 2007 that a bomb went off in the Makkah Masjid complex. The explosion killed nine persons and injured as many as 58 others. Soon after the blast, a first information report (IPC) was registered under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code at the Hussaini Alam Police Station of the South Zone. In another FIR registered a few days later, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was invoked. In April 2014, the Special NIA Court in Hyderabad acquitted the accused.

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