RTI activist murder: Key accused Zahida denied bail



Indore: A Special CBI Court on Thursday rejected the bail application of Zahida Parvez, the main accused in the 2011 murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood.

Special Judge Anupam Srivastava, who heard arguments of defence counsel A J Bhojwani and Senior Public Prosecutor Hemant Shukla, dismissed the bail plea after about an hour- long proceeding given the serious charges levelled against Zahida, who is an architect by profession.

Rejecting the defence counsel's argument seeking relief on the ground Zahida has got two minor daughters to take care of and that she had already spent six months in jail, the Judge said "It is not necessary to give benefit of bail to Zahida because she was a working lady and a qualified architect."

Upholding the prosecution's contention to deny bail to her, the court said there was an allegation on record that Zahida paid an amount of Rs 3 lakh personally to co-accused Shaquib Ali as a consideration for carrying out the killing.

"Due to love and affection for someone, she (Zahida) never mentioned the names of her daughters or family members in her personal diary (in which she used to regularly make entries and which is now in CBI custody)," the Judge said, apparently making a reference to the agency's argument that she neglected her children.

Zahida filed the application on August 10 and sought bail on the ground that she has to be at home to take care of her family members, including minor children.

Her counsel Bhojwani submitted that under the law an under trial could be given bail unless there are strong reasons to believe that once released, she/he may flee or distort and destroy evidences.

"In Zahida's case, the evidences are documented and are lying with the prosecution... She has got immovable property in Bhopal... And she is in jail for the last six months...Has two minor daughters who need her personal care," Bhojwani argued.

The Public Prosecutor told the Court, "Zahida had time for her love and friends, but not for her children. Her diary (entry) reflects feeling of jealousy for the deceased."

"She was the kingpin of the (murder) conspiracy. In the chargesheet it has been explained how she had used her friend and co-accused Saba Farooqui and other accused for accomplishing her task," he said.

"The act of the accused is highly reprehensible, dreadful. She is a criminal not merely by act but mentally too. She nursed grudges against the deceased for a long period for reasons noted in her diary," Shukla said.

"Her enlargement on bail would not only cause threat to life of prime witnesses but also hamper trial of the case. She is affluent enough to win over the witnesses by money power. Her bail plea is devoid of any merit and hence should be rejected," the CBI counsel said.

The trial in the case would begin from August 30. Farooqui's bail plea was rejected on August 21.

Besides Zahida, who is facing charges of murder and criminal conspiracy, Farooqui and Shaquib Ali (who allegedly arranged for the killers), other accused in the case are Irfan Ali and Tabish Khan, both suspected contract killers. On May 25, CBI had filed a chargesheet against the five accused.

Shehla was shot dead outside her house in Bhopal on August 16, 2011.

PTI