SC grants bail to 2 Kerala men in UAPA case
New Delhi, October 29, 2021
The Supreme Court on Thursday granted bail to Thwaha Fasal, one of the two students arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in November 2019 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for their alleged Maoist links.
The top court observed that mere support given to a terrorist organization or mere association with it, is not sufficient to attract offences under Sections 38 and 39 of the UAPA.
A bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka said: "Mere association with a terrorist organisation is not sufficient to attract Section 38 and mere support given to a terrorist organisation is not sufficient to attract Section 39. The association and the support have to be with the intention of furthering the activities of a terrorist organisation".
The top court set aside the Kerala High Court order which had cancelled his bail.
The top court also junked the Centre's appeal challenging the Kerala High Court judgment affirming the trial court order, which granted bail to law student Allan Shuaib in a UAPA case. The high court had declined to cancel the bail for Shuaib, the second accused, bail noting his young age and health.
The bench noted that at a formative young age, the accused might have been fascinated by what is propagated by CPI (Maoist) and they may be in possession of various documents/books concerning CPI (Maoist) in soft or hard form. However, the bench added that apart from the allegation that certain photographs showing that the accused participated in a protest organised by an organisation allegedly linked with CPI (Maoist), "prima facie there is no material in the charge sheet to project active participation of the accused nos 1 and 2 in the activities of CPI (Maoist) from which even an inference can be drawn, that there was an intention on their part of furthering the activities or terrorist acts of the terrorist organisation," said the bench.
The bench further added that, prima facie, their constant association or support of the organization for a long period of time is not borne out from the charge sheet. Fasal and Shuaib, are students of journalism and law, respectively. They are also CPI(Maoist)'s branch committee members. The duo was arrested in November 2019 from Kozhikode. The CPI(M) in Kerala had expelled them from the party over their alleged Maoists link. The police allegedly seized objectionable material in connection with Maoist ideology.
The charge sheet filed by the NIA claimed the accused were harbouring and associating with a banned Maoist outfit. Additional Solicitor General S. V. Raju, for the NIA, had argued they were "members" of the banned organisation, and if found guilty, can be sentenced up to life in prison under UAPA.