CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday granted conditional bail to Madurai-based lawyer M Mohamed Abbas who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act for alleged links with the banned Popular Front of India (PFI). The court observed that there was no reasonable grounds to believe that the allegation against the petitioner is prima facie true.
While granting bail, the bench of justices M Sundar and R Sakthivel said, “We find that the case on hand does not pass muster qua reasonable grounds for believing that accusation against the petitioner is prima facie true, to put it differently, the case diary before us (specifically the portions including audio clips to which our attention was drawn) does not cut ice qua proviso to section 43D (5) of UAPA.”
It further states, “The discussion including the trial court order in our view makes it clear that all the eight determinants/parameters adumbrated in Hussainara Khatoon case, reiterated in Antil case stand answered in favour of the petitioner or in other words they enure to the benefit of the petitioner regarding bail plea.”
As part of bail conditions, he will have to stay in Chennai, and appear before the trial court daily, apart from executing a bond and furnishing two sureties for a like sum of Rs 1 lakh each.
Allowing the appeal against an order of the NIA special court dismissing his bail plea, the bench said Abbas shall sign before the trial court every day at 10.30 am until further orders and surrender his passport. Abbas, who has appeared for PFI members in several cases, was arrested on May 9 by NIA for alleged links with the outfit.
The counsels for Abbas contended that he was added as accused no. 17 and subsequently arrested due to ‘malice and malafide’ with ulterior motives over his Facebook post on NIA highhandedness. However, the NIA contended that the arrest was based on material evidence, particularly audio clips of Abbas’ conversation with one of the accused in the PFI case and a lawyer. The bench turned down the oral application made by a special public prosecutor for the NIA seeking a certificate for appealing the verdict in the Supreme Court.