A special NIA court Friday granted the probe agency eight-day custody of 16 accused arrested for allegedly attempting to set up a terror outfit, "Ansarullah", and collecting funds to carry out attacks in the country.
Moving a plea for their 10-day custody, the special pubic prosecutor (SPP) for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said the agency needed to take the accused to various places to verify the evidence collected against them during the probe.
"The interrogation of the accused is required to unearth the source of funds, their transmission and utilisation...the larger conspiracy," the NIA submitted before Judge P Chenthoorpandi.
The counsels for the accused strongly opposed the NIA plea and said all the respondents, except two -- Hasan Ali Yunus Maraicar and Harish Mohamed, were working in a foreign country and were suddenly deported to India and arrested thereafter.
The probe officer had not mentioned any good grounds for seeking custody, they said.
"There is no necessity for custodial interrogation of the respondents. If police custody is granted they will be physically and mentally tortured by the NIA and there is a possibility of creating false evidence against the respondents," they contended.
The SPP said seven of the 16 accused were lodged in a prison in the UAE. They were deported to India on July 12 and arrested the next day.
"This is a case of serious nature, involving the safety and security of our country and this is a case which has not been investigated earlier by any police agency. Hence, taking the respondents into custody is inevitable for a proper probe," he said.
The judge said the accused persons had formed a group which was known by various names like "Wahadat-e-Islami", "Jarnaat Wahadat-ul-Islam-al-Jihadiya", Jihadist Islamic Unit", and "Ansarullah". Their aim was to establish Islamic rule in India by resorting to violence.
According to the prosecution, they supported ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
It was alleged that Maraicar was closely associated with ISIS and was actively recruiting individuals for a terror strike in India.
The prosecution also alleged that Maraicar, along with another man, Syed Buhari, was conspiring to destabilise the democratic polity of India to establish Islamic rule by unleashing violent jihad against the Government of India.
The court granted custody of the accused to the NIA from 5 pm on Friday to 5 pm on July 26.
It said the NIA should produce the accused before it on July 26 and made it clear that the respondents must not be ill-treated either mentally or physically.