The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the bail order granted by the Delhi High Court to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, who was arrested in 2017 by the National Investigation Agency in an alleged terror funding case, PTI reported.

The National Investigation Agency, represented by Attorney General KK Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, had filed a petition in the top court against the High Court’s decision on Thursday. The agency claimed that Watali’s bail would hinder the ongoing terror funding case.

While granting the bail on Thursday, the High Court had ordered Watali to submit a personal bail bond of Rs 2 lakh, two sureties of the same amount and his passport. It had said there was no prima facie material to prove that Watali was involved in a conspiracy.

On Friday, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud directed Watali to file his response to the investigating agency’s petition by September 26 and adjourned the case till then.

NIA allegations

The investigating agency raided Watali’s premises in June 2017 and August 2017, and claimed to have found “highly incriminating material pertaining to the receipt of funds by Watali from foreign sources, and its further distribution to terrorists and separatists in Kashmir Valley for anti-India activities”.

The raids were part of an investigation into the alleged funding for militancy by Pakistan-based groups to stoke unrest in the Valley. Kashmir saw widespread violence after security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.

After the raids on June 3, 2017, the agency had arrested seven separatists – Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah, Peer Saifullah, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Nayeem Khan, Ayaz Akbar, Shahid-ul-Islam and Bitta Karatay – for allegedly funding terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir. They were sent to judicial custody for two weeks.

Watali has been lodged at the Tihar jail since his arrest. The businessman would have been the third of 12 accused to be granted bail in the case. A Delhi court had granted bail to freelance photojournalist Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmad Bhat in March.