Apex Court says that Can't Jail Someone Indefinitely While Probing National Security Concerns

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The Top Court today granted bail to an accused in an alleged multi-crore cattle smuggling racket operating on the Indo-Bangladesh border in collusion with officials of Border Security Force (BSF) and customs.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Dinesh Maheshwari allowed the appeal against the Calcutta high court order by which it had dismissed a bail plea of Mohd Enamul Haque, alleged to be the kingpin of cattle smuggling racket.

Appearing for Haque, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said that the CBI has filed a chargesheet in the alleged cattle-smuggling case on February 6, 2021 and followed it up with a supplementary chargesheet on February 21 last year. He said the accused BSF commandant as well as other accused have also been granted bail but the Calcutta High Court had rejected Haque's bail plea even though he has been in jail for more than one year in an offence which prescribes a maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment.

For the CBI, additional solicitor general Aman Lekhi said the petitioner is the kingpin of a racket involving BSF personnel, customs officials, local police and others for trans-border cattle smuggling through the porous Indo-Bangladesh border.

He also said that Haque evaded a look out notice but he surfaced in West Bengal by reaching West Bengal through land route from Bangladesh, thus, indicating collusion by local police and raising a grave concern for national security.

When he said investigation into a larger conspiracy is still pending, Justices Chandrachud and Maheshwari asked, "This open ended investigation is what we do not comprehend. How detaining a person indefinitely will help in probing larger conspiracy when other accused have been granted bail? Is one year and two months, for which he has been in custody, not enough for probing the larger conspiracy?"

The bench said, “Having due regard to the nature of allegations, the offence involved and the maximum sentence, the continued detention of the appellant who has suffered custody of over a year and two months is not warranted. In the circumstances, we order and direct that the appellant (Haque) shall be released on bail subject to such terms and conditions as may be opposed by the special judge CBI at Asansol.”

Earlier The High Court then observed, "Taking into consideration the materials as above, the nature, gravity and severity of the accusations and keeping in mind the observation of Hon'ble Apex Court, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, we are not inclined to allow the prayer of the petitioner for bail. Hence the same stands are rejected. Any observation made in this order shall not be construed as any opinion on merits of the case of either of the parties."

Finally today the Top court bench delivered haque bail.