Terror funding accused fails to secure bail to take oath as LS MP

| | New Delhi
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Terror funding accused fails to secure bail to take oath as LS MP

Sunday, 23 June 2024 | Staff Reporter | New Delhi

Newly elected Lok Sabha MP from north Kashmir Sheikh Abdul Rashid, arrested in a 2017 Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case, failed to secure interim bail on Saturday with a special court here adjourning the matter till July 1.

The court asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file a response to to his plea and also inform it about when he could take an oath as an MP.

The newly elected Lok Sabha MPs are scheduled to take oath on June 24, 25 and 26.

During the hearing, Rashid's counsel sought custody parole for him to take oath and cited a recent order where AAP leader Sanjay Singh, an accused in the Delhi excise "scam" money laundering case, was allowed identical relief to take oath as a Rajya Sabha MP recently.

Additional Sessions Judge Kiran Gupta, however, observed that the charges levelled against Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, were on a different footing from those faced by the AAP leader.

The NIA submitted it is in the process of consulting Parliament and Tihar jail authorities "regarding the prayer sought by the applicant for his oath ceremony." "Let reply, if any, be filed by NIA on 01.07.2024 before the concerned Court. As directed vide order dated 18.06.2024, NIA is also directed to apprise the court about the date on which the applicant / accused may take Oath as Member of Parliament.

"Put up for consideration before the concerned court on 01.07.2024 at 11 am," the judge said the its order.

The judge allowed the NIA's prayer for time to file its reply.

Advocate Vikhyat Oberoi argued for releasing Rashid on bail, asserting, "He is the person who won the election with a vast majority. People love him and want him to fight in parliament democratically.

"It is my (Rashid's) constitutional duty to take oath. I am compelled to beg before them for taking an oath. This is really shameful. The court may direct the jail authorities to contact the Lok Sabha Secretariat, direct NIA to contact the Lok Sabha Secretariat, or direct the Lok Sabha Secretariat to specify the date on which Rashid may take oath," the counsel said.

Rashid has moved the court seeking interim bail, or custody parole in the alternative, to take oath and perform his parliamentary functions.

Rashid has been in jail since 2019 after he was charged by the NIA under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged involvement in a terror funding case. He is currently lodged in Tihar jail.

The former MLA's name cropped up during the investigation of Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, who the NIA had arrested for allegedly funding terrorist groups and separatists in the Kashmir valley.

The NIA had filed a charge sheet against several individuals, including Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin in the case. Malik was awarded life imprisonment by a trial court in 2022 after he pleaded guilty to the charges.  

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