The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail to senior advocate and former assistant solicitor general IH Syed charged with the offences of extortion, criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, intentional insult, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement.
Justice Nikhil Kariel observed, “the scales of justice tilt in favour of the applicant”. Further, the judge added that the FIR and statement made by the complainant, Viral Shah in the case did not reveal any specific role of Syed except his presence at the scene of the alleged offence of assault and wrongful confinement of the businessman Shah in Pethapur in Gandhinagar district last month.
Syed was booked along with six others after one Viral Shah lodged an FIR on May 15 complaining that he was assaulted and threatened and forced to sign an agreement accepting liability of Rs 20 crore to pay to some of the accused persons including his former business partner. Shah was accused in an FIR registered earlier in December 2021 about a business dispute of Rs 142 crore. The first FIR was quashed after a settlement.
Earlier the court refused to grant any interim relief to Syed, who pleaded to quash the criminal proceedings against him by stating, “No case is made out to quash the FIR /criminal proceedings at this stage while exercising the powers under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)”.
The court noted that the state government stretched the case to the first FIR only to paint the case as more serious, but the lawyer has nothing to do with the first FIR, which has been already quashed. While granting legal protection against arrest to the senior advocate, the court said that the material placed by the prosecution does not reflect the commission of any offence by the lawyer except for remaining present in the meeting.
The court also rejected the state government’s contention that former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, at whose residence the alleged incident had taken place on May 14, wrote to the present chief minister at the behest of Syed and tried to influence the probe.
Justice Kariel said that there is no material against him “worth the name” to justify allegations and therefore this is a fit case to stay the investigator from arresting him. The court has asked advocate Syed to appear before the investigator for the purpose of the investigation on June 14.