The family of Jagtar Singh Johal have called a successful bail application “a major breakthrough”.

Jagtar, of Dumbarton, Scotland, was imprisoned for allegedly conspiring to murder a number of right-wing Hindu leaders.

He had travelled to India for his wedding in October 2017 when he was allegedly arrested by police and bundled into an unmarked car.

Jagtar’s family say he was tortured over his activism and campaigning for Sikh human rights.

He was charged under India’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, despite prosecutors failing to present admissible evidence against him.

Jagtar was imprisoned and could face the death penalty.

Earlier in 2023, it was revealed that he could also be waiting for up to 40 years for his trial process to be over.

The Supreme Court has now granted bail in one of Jagtar’s cases, upholding an earlier High Court decision and rejecting the state’s appeal.

The court recognised that Jagtar’s continued imprisonment violates his fundamental rights under India’s constitution.

Jagtar Singh Johal will not immediately be freed on bail as this ruling only applies to one of the nine cases against him.

But the Supreme Court ordered the trial court to expedite matters.

Jagtar’s brother Gurpreet, who is a West Dunbartonshire councillor, hopes that the ruling could be the step forward that the family have been waiting for.

He said: “This is a major breakthrough in the case.

“It’s been almost six years but finally we can see light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have known all along that Jagtar’s imprisonment was unjust – and now the highest court in India has recognised it.

“There is still much work to do, to get Jagtar home where he belongs, around the dinner table with us in Dumbarton, but today I feel more hopeful than I have in a very long time.”

Human rights group Reprieve called on the UK government to reconsider its refusal to recognise Jagtar’s arbitrary detention and seek his release.

The Supreme Court rejected the Additional Solicitor General of India’s argument that the serious nature of the charges justified Jagtar’s continued imprisonment, asking to see the evidence against him.

When the prosecution only provided witness statements, the court dismissed its appeal against bail being granted.

The Additional Solicitor General protested: “But your lordship he’s a British national.”

The judges responded: “We know how to keep foreign nationals safe in this country, don’t worry. Dismissed”.

Reprieve director Maya Foa said: “Prosecutors have had almost six years to build a case against Jagtar, since the moment he was snatched off the street and tortured into making a false confession.

“Last week the Supreme Court of India rejected that flimsy case, finding that they simply do not have enough evidence to justify keeping Jagtar in prison.

“The court’s resounding judgement makes clear that Jagtar’s continued imprisonment is a terrible injustice, underscoring the UK Government’s failure to recognise his arbitrary detention or seek his release.