Case first transferred in Jan when bail order of Kamran Yousuf was reserved after 5 months of arguments
After hearing Wattali’s bail plea, order reserved again, case moved back to older Judge hearing the case till Jan
Srinagar: Months after the court hearings of Kashmiris booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and money laundering offences by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, a Delhi High Court administrative order transferred the case from the court of Additional Sessions Judge Justice Tarun Sehrawat to District and Sessions Judge (DSJ) Poonam A Bamba.
The families of the incarcerated Hurriyat leaders feel that with the transfer, the case status is back a square one.
The alleged terror funding case involves Altaf Ahmad Shah, alias Altaf Fantosh, son-in-law of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali and photojournalist Kamran Yusuf along with nine other accused.
Kamran Yousuf has been given bail, along with one other accused, Javed Bhat, due to lack of evidences.
Wattali too, was to get bail according the family. ASJ Sehrawat however had reserved the order on the bail application of Watali, 65, in the terror funding case after 10 hearings for May 26. But the case was transferred the day before.
“The bail of Mr Zahoor Wattali which was heard and reserved for orders is to be reheard now because of the transfer. We are moving to the High court. The hearing will be on July 17. Till now, we were on track. The Judge had already heard the case for 5 months. Now a different judge will rehear them. It was not a transfer actuated by anyone else but the court. They were restructuring the roster in the lower court,” said Shariq Reyaz, a lawyer based out of Delhi.
NIA had claimed to have evidence of his role in hawala trading and financing of Hurriyat leaders. Dr Yameen Zahoor, Wattali’s eldest son says that he keeps meeting him and is worried about his deteriorating health and delay in the bail.
Not happy with the transfer of the case, he says, he will be filing a writ against the order in the High Court on Monday.
The case was first transferred in January when the bail order of Kamran Yousuf was reserved after 5 months of arguments. For the last five months the bail plea of Zahoor Wattali was heard by the court, but the order has now been reserved again, and the case is moved back to the same Judge who was hearing the case till January.
“These are their tactics to delay the case. Till now, NIA was not able to prove anything in this case. For 5-6 times, their lawyer didn’t come to the court. The judgement on bail was to be confirmed today on 26th. When they couldn’t do anything, High Court sent an order via the registrar asking for the change of the judge. Again, Poonam Bamba is the judge,” says Yameen adding that DSJ Bamba has ordered the next hearing to be heard on 17 July 2018.
The progress in the case, says Yamin, so far has landed back to zero.
Speaking about his father he says, “He (father) is worried about the delays. Three days back, we were sure about the release. He is facing health issues there. We are requesting them to allow us to go for his private treatment but they are insisting upon taking him to AIIMS where dates are hard to get.”
Yamin told Free Press Kashmir that apart from having diabetes and Blood pressure issues, Wattali has been advised prostate biopsy as it is suspected that he might have malignancy.
“For the past 6 months, he has lost 22 kgs of weight, on record. A biopsy test was advised by All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS), Delhi for which they kept delaying the dates. So, we had asked them to allow us to take him for private treatment while they could keep him in their custody. But they are saying they need permission from NIA,” he says.
“ASJ Sherawat has, in fact, asked them on what basis had they filed the case if they had nothing to produce before the court. He had even told the NIA he would pass the judgement even if their lawyer doesn’t show up. See, he got transferred,” says Dr Yameen.
“Unfortunately everyone is either afraid to talk, or doesn’t want to talk about it. I met everyone here, and in Delhi. They give us assurance on the face but don’t do anything,” adds Yamin.
Pertinently, the accused Kashmiris including Shabir Ahmad Shah, Muzaffar Ahmad Dar and Altaf Ahmad Dar on behalf of around 25-30 other Kashmiris have written a letter to Director General of Prisms, Delhi on 30th April,2018 requesting him “to lodge them together, separate from other inmates with varying behaviours and different cultural backgrounds, especially when they are mostly booked on political reasons prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir”.
They have made the request highlighting their ‘peace-loving, rule-abiding nature and age and health issues. Moreover, they have mentioned that “they feel suffocated and very uneasy in presence of other inmates from various cultural backgrounds.”
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