Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NIA not to Oppose Bail Granted To Swami Aseemanand

(CNN)

Prior to the proposed NSA level talks with Pakistan, the government has decided not to challenge the bail granted to main accused of the Samjhauta blasts and so called terror mastermind, Swami Aseemanand.

Pakistan is expected to strongly rake up this with India during the talks, drawing parallels with India's demand that Pakistan should challenge the bail granted to Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi in the Mumbai 26/11 attack case.

"The Punjab and Haryana High Court passed an order granting conditional bail to Swami Aseemanand on August 28, 2014 in the Samjhauta Express blast case. However, the certified copy of the said order was issued by the court only on May 1, 2015. The NIA examineed the feasibility of filing an SLP and decided that there were no grounds to challenge the order in the Supreme Court," the Home Ministry has said in a written reply in Lok Sabha to a question raiseed by MP Asaduddin Owaisi.the first to report on July 16 that NIA was unlikely to challenge the same bail granted to Swami Aseemanand, which is now expected to fuel allegations that the NIA is going soft in right-wing terror cases.

The bail was approved by the High Court (HC) on August 28 last year after BJP's legal cell head, Satya Pal Jain, had appeared as Aseemanand's counsel. Aseemanand however continues to be in jail as he is still to procure bail in the Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blast cases in which he is also framed as an accused. CNN has learnt Aseemanand is planning to apply for bail in the Ajmer blasts case. Last month, he was allowed 10-days parole by the HC to visit Kolkata to see his ailing mother under NIA's constant supervision.

NIA officials cited to a December 12, 2014 Supreme Court order in another NIA terror case of north-east granting bail to one Jayant Kumar Ghosh on grounds of the person being in jail for nearly five years and the trial being far from completion. "The case of Aseemanand is similar to that case as he has been in jail since 2010 and the Samjhauta trial is far from over - the same grounds have been cited by the HC while granting him bail," a senior government official told . Sources said NIA may have also taken a compassionate ground in the case given Aseemanand's old age - he is 78 years old.

he development could lead to a diplomatic stand-off with Pakistan which has been raising the issue of India making a 'weak case' against Aseemanand, who is alleged to be responsible for the bombing of the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express in which 68 people, mostly Pakistani nationals, were killed. The neighbouring country points to the slow progress in the case when confronted by India about the release of 26/11 conspirator Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi - the same was pointed out by Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz two days ago. Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif had also raised the Samjhauta trial with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during talks in Russia. The issue is again expected to figure in the NSA-level talks between both countries in Delhi this month. NIA is already facing the heat after its special public prosecutor, Rohini Salian, alleged she was asked by NIA to go soft against accused in right-wing terror cases.

The NIA has earlier not challenged the bail granted by Andhra Pradesh High Court last April to right-wing terror accused Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma and Bharat Bhai in the Mecca Masjid case as the new BJP government denied permission for the same. The trio though remains in jail as they are accused in Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts too.