HC grants bail to man arrested for firing at VHP member | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC grants bail to man arrested for firing at VHP member

BySahyaja MS
May 27, 2024 07:40 AM IST

Bombay High Court grants bail to Abu Bakar Rashid Shaikh after nearly 7 years in custody due to lack of evidence in 2012 shooting case.

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court recently granted bail to Abu Bakar Rashid Shaikh, who was accused of threatening and firing at a Vishwa Hindu Parishad member from Bhiwandi in 2012. The court cited the extended duration of his custody—nearly seven years—as a significant factor in its decision, along with the lack of concrete evidence against him.

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Abu Bakar Rashid Shaikh was arrested on June 3, 2017, and was seeking bail in connection with two Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) cases from 2012 and 2013.

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On August 3, 2012, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad member and lawyer was travelling in his car with an armed bodyguard when shots were fired at him, one of which grazed his arm. However, neither the complainant nor his bodyguard could identify the assailants at the scene.

While seeking bail, Shaikh argued in court that he had been in custody for seven years and was not absconding. Moreover, the prosecution had only managed to examine 26 out of 70 witnesses since the trial began. Notably, key witnesses, including the complainant’s bodyguard, failed to identify Shaikh as one of the assailants. He also pointed out that co-accused individuals had been granted bail, with the court previously expressing doubts about the conspiracy theory and the recovery of the weapon.

The high court bench of Justice PD Naik and Justice NR Borkar acknowledged the long duration of Shaikh’s pre-trial detention and found that the stringent conditions of the MCOCA and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) should not impede his release on bail. The court highlighted that the evidence against Shaikh did not conclusively establish his involvement in the crime.

The court’s decision was also influenced by several Supreme Court rulings, which have underscored that prolonged pretrial incarceration violates the fundamental right to personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that in cases where the trial is unlikely to conclude within a reasonable time, and the accused has already spent a substantial period in custody, bail should be considered.

The court ordered Shaikh’s release on a personal bond of 50,000 with one or more sureties of the same amount. Additionally, Shaikh must report to the trial court on the first Monday of every calendar month until the appeal is resolved and provide details of his residence to the court while ensuring he does not tamper with the evidence.

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