Ex-Infosys engineer held in IM case gets bail

Mere presence at discussion or dinner party can't amount to membership of an organised crime syndicate or terrorist organisation: HC

Bombay High Court (HC) granted bail on Monday to Mohammed Ateeq Mohammed Iqbal, a 29-year-old former computer engineer with Infosys who was arrested by Mumbai Police Crime Branch in October 2008 for allegedly being a member of Indian Mujahideen (IM). The arrest was made following the July 26, 2008, Ahmedabad and Surat blasts, for which IM had claimed responsibility in emails sent to the media minutes before the strikes.

He is the third of the 23 accused in the case to secure bail.

The prosecution had argued that Ateeq, a resident of Pusad in Yavatmal district who worked in Pune, attended discussions and a dinner organised by wanted IM operatives Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal on the evening of the serial blasts.

Granting him bail for Rs 50,000, HC said: "Mere presence at a discussion or a dinner party cannot amount to membership of an organised crime syndicate (OCS) or a terrorist organisation."

It said issues allegedly discussed at the IM meetings were broad and a person was free to express his/her views. "...that cannot make a person a criminal unless it is shown that he has actively done something to further the activity."

The court observed that prima facie, application of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) was not tenable in the case against IM. It said "it is highly doubtful" that IM can be called an OCS.

Justice A M Thipsay wrote in his order, "On the date of the incidents, Indian Mujahideen was not a banned organisation under provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967."

The court said under UAPA, a terror organisation meant an organisation listed under the schedule or one running in the same name as that listed. IM was added to UAPA schedule on June 4, 2010.

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