Weapons smuggling from Punjab to Kashmir: HC grants bail to three accused after police fails to file challan in 90 days

Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted bail to three alleged Kashmiri militants with ‘ISI link’ after Punjab Police failed to produce challan in the case on time. The High Court also rejected the extension of judicial remand of alleged militants as granted by a local court.

Amir Hussain Wani and Wasim Hussain Bhatt were arrested on June 11 last year, whereas Javed Ahmed Bhatt was apprehended on the June 12. An FIR was registered at Police Station Sadar, Pathankot, under Sections 13, 17, 18, 18(b) 20 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. With the arrest of these accused, the Punjab Police last year had claimed to foil “a major attempt to smuggle weapons into the Valley for carrying out terror attacks, with the arrest of J&K-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operatives.”

Ten hand grenades, along with one AK-47 rifle with 2 magazines and 60 live cartridges, were allegedly seized from the suspected militants

The trio, it was alleged, had entered into a conspiracy for taking weapons and explosive substances from Amritsar to Anantnag (J&K) in a truck.

After the arrest, Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta had claimed: “The arrest of Aamir and Wasim had corroborated recent intelligence inputs indicating that Pak ISI has been pushing weapon consignments and infiltrating militants from across the border into Punjab, and further to Kashmir valley for carrying out terror activities.”

However, in bail order passed Monday, Punjab and Haryana High court said, “Ordinarily the investigating agency was expected to complete its investigation and to file a report under Section 173 CrPC within a period of 90 days. However, the Illaqa Magistrate in a purported exercise of powers under Section 43-D (2) of Unlawful Activities Act, extended the period of investigation from 90 days to 180 days vide order dated September 7, 2020. Since the Illaqa Magistrate was not competent to extend the period, therefore, this court is left with no option but to hold that the challan which was presented on November 27, 2020 beyond the period of 90 days without there being any valid extension of the said period.”

It said, “The petitioners had moved an application on November 17, 2020 seeking their release in terms of Section 167(2) CrPC. which was dismissed on November 24, 2020. Keeping in view the afore stated position especially in light of ratio of judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court, order dated November 24, 2020 declining the application for release of the petitioners in terms of Section 167(2) CrPC cannot sustain and is hereby set aside.”

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