Bail Rejected for Journalist Held Under India’s Terror Laws


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins affiliates and

partners in India in calling for the review of a trial court decision denying

bail to Syed

Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, a journalist held in Delhi, India’s capital city,

since March 6.


Kazmi is being detained without formal charge under sections of the Explosives Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,

while investigations continue into a February 13 bomb attack on a vehicle belonging

to the Israeli diplomatic mission in the Indian capital.


In turning down his bail application, Delhi’s Chief Metropolitan

Magistrate Vinod Yadav held that global inquiries into the bombing might be

compromised by his release. The Magistrate also acceded in large part to a prosecution

request not to discuss evidence in open court.


On the basis of telephone

and bank records placed before him, Magistrate Vinod Yadav arrived at a prima facie determination that Syed

Kazmi was in contact with the actual “assailants” and may have obtained funds from

foreign sources to carry out his part in the conspiracy.


Kazmi’s supporters

argue that his correspondence with contacts based in Iran was most likely connected

to his professional work as a correspondent for the official Iranian news

agency. As a specialist on Gulf matters, he was a frequent visitor to Iran and

neighbouring Arab countries.


Delhi’s top police

official, Commissioner B K Gupta said soon after Kazmi’s arrest that he and his wife, Jahanara Kazmi, had been

receiving foreign remittances “regularly”. Kazmi’s supporters point out that

the remittances originating in the Gulf Emirate of Dubai date back four years,

follow a regular monthly pattern and can all be traced to an account held by Jahanara

Kazmi’s son from her first marriage to Kazmi’s long deceased elder brother.


Meanwhile, articles have appeared in sections of the Indian media, questioning the background of

the police personnel investigating the February 13 incident and suggesting a

disturbing tendency towards lawless behaviour, including possible involvement in

extra-judicial executions.


A.G. Noorani, a

highly respected commentator and expert on Indian constitutional law, hasobservedthat the conduct of

the Special Branch of Delhi Police could violate the basic principle of the

presumption of innocence. “Leaks or even attributable briefings while the

investigation proceeds are highly improper and, indeed, illegal”, he has said. “They

constitute a clear case of contempt of court and the officials should be hauled

up by the courts promptly and awarded deterrent sentences”.


Kazmi was remanded for

twenty days in police custody on March 7 but transferred to judicial custody

before this remand period expired, ostensibly because the Special Branch of the

Delhi Police had no further need to keep him.


His bail application came

up before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate on March 30 but the hearing was

adjourned till April 3 because prosecution lawyers were not present.


“We appeal to the

authorities in India to respond to the growing concerns expressed by the media

community over the prolonged incarceration of a professional colleague without

formal charge”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.


Kazmi must be granted the right to a prompt and fair

hearing, in keeping with national and international human rights principles. If

sufficient evidence cannot be found to charge him, then he should be released. Several

vital principles are at stake aside from the right to liberty of an individual

and his freedom to speak”.



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