SRINAGAR: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal filed by Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali challenging the Trial Court order denying him bail last year on the ground of COVID-19, in connection with a funding case.

According to reports, Watali had challenged the order passed by Trial Court dated 15th May 2021 wherein it was concluded that there was no question of granting bail to him only on the ground of spread of COVID-19 pandemic. The Trial Court also took note of his medical condition as he was suffering from various ailments including diabetes, hyperthyroidism, piles etc.

Thereafter, on January 31, 2022, the Trial Court had, till further orders, directed Watali to be kept under house arrest at his Gurugram residence for his medical treatment.

A division bench comprising of Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Anish Dayal on Tuesday observed that a perusal of the status report revealed that Watali was being regularly treated and was also receiving prescribed medicines and that his condition was stable and satisfactory.

The Bench was also of the view that as on date, it cannot be said that the COVID-19 situation was still prevalent and that the life returning to normalcy would even apply to prisoners who are in custody.

While dismissing the appeal, the Bench directed that till further orders, Watali be put under house arrest in his Gurugram residence wherefrom he will be allowed to be taken to hospitals or diagnostic centres for conducting any tests, if recommended.

The Court also added that in case he is admitted to a hospital, the venue of house arrest will be shifted to hospital from his residence.

The Court further directed that during the period of house arrest, Watali cannot meet anybody except immediate family members and the lawyer.

“Subsequent to the conditions mentioned in order dated January 31, 2022 and the fact that the appellant was in custody in his own home, the appeal challenging the order dated 15 May 2021 declining bail to appellant is rendered infructuous and is dismissed accordingly,” the Court ordered.

The Bench however orally told Watali’s counsel that he may move the Trial Court for grant of regular bail or may challenge the order as per law.

Watali has been accused of transferring funds received from Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, among others, to Hurriyat leaders.

The allegations against Watali are that he had acted as a conduit for transfer of funds received from terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, ISI, Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi and also from a source in Dubai, to Hurriyat leaders/secessionists/terrorists and had helped them in waging war against the Government of India by repeated attacks on security forces and Government establishments and by damaging public property including burning schools etc.

Watali is charged under Sections 120B, 121 and 121A of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 13,16,17,18,20,38,39 and 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.


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