Delhi court asks NIA to respond to Engineer Rashid’s interim bail plea by July 1

 Engineer Rashid.

Engineer Rashid.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

A Delhi court on June 21 asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to respond by July 1 to an application filed by Engineer Rashid, arrested in a 2017 Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case, seeking interim bail to take oath as an MP.

Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, defeated former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in Baramulla. Additional Sessions Judge Kiran Gupta fixed the matter for hearing on July 1 and directed the NIA to file its reply by then.

During the hearing, the judge observed that the charges levelled against Rashid were on a different footing from those faced by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh, an accused in the Delhi excise “scam” money-laundering case.

The judge made the observation in response to the submission by Rashid’s counsel who told the court that Mr. Singh was allowed custody parole to take oath as a Rajya Sabha MP recently. 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 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 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. The newly elected Lok Sabha MPs are scheduled to take oath on June 24, 25 and 26.

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 at present 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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