Shabir Shah
Shabir Shah

SRINAGAR — Shabir Ahmad Shah, a Kashmiri separatist leader, has been granted statutory bail by Delhi’s Patiala House Court in a money laundering case under PMLA. This follows his arrest in 2017, with the court citing that he has served more than half of the potential maximum sentence for the offence.

The bail conditions include a personal bond of one lakh rupees and a surety bond of the same amount, along with restrictions on leaving the country without court permission.

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Despite the bail grant, Shah will remain in custody due to other pending cases against him. The court referenced the Supreme Court’s judgment in Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary’s case while making its decision. It noted Shah’s prolonged custody of 6 years and 10 months, well beyond half of the 7-year maximum punishment prescribed.

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Although Shah faces serious charges in other cases, the court said that being an under-trial without any convictions in these cases is insufficient grounds for denying statutory bail. It highlighted that Shah is unlikely to be released before July 24, 2024, when the 7-year maximum punishment period expires for him in this case.

The court also mentioned the acquittal of Shah’s co-accused, Mohammad Aslam Wani, in all but one predicate offence under the Arms Act. Shah’s bail application was filed under Section 436A CrPC, arguing that he has already served over half of the potential sentence for money laundering under PMLA.

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Shah’s advocates argued that he has been in custody since July 2017 and will complete his potential maximum imprisonment period by July 2024. They contended that according to legal precedents, Shah should not be subject to the stringent conditions under Section 45 PMLA for bail eligibility.

The plea faced opposition from the Special Public Prosecutor for ED, citing the seriousness of the allegations against Shah, including involvement in ‘terror financing’ and generating proceeds from crime. The prosecutor expressed concerns about the risk of Shah absconding if released on bail, considering his alleged past conduct.

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