Court grants bail to students, tells NIA protest against govt policies not sedition, g

Sep 11, 2020

Kochi: Two students arrested in Kerala over alleged Maoist links have been granted bail by a Special Court in Kochi after nearly ten months of incarceration, as the court found that the National Investigation Agency failed to establish a prima facie case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967, against the accused.

INIA had submitted chargesheet against Allan Shuhaib (20) and Thwaha Fasal(24) – students of law and journalism respectively – invoking offences under Sections 38 and 39 of the UAPA which deal with association with a terrorist organization and supporting it with the intention to further its activities. The accused were also charged with Section 13 of the UAPA (punishment for unlawful activity) and 120B of the Indian Penal Code (criminal conspiracy), LiveLaw reported.

The Court in its observation while granting the bail said that the notices, pamphlets, banners, etc., seized from the accused related to “burning social and political issues” such as calling for implementation of Gadgil Committee report for the protection of western ghats, condemnation of encounter killings of Maoists, protests against police atrocities, abrogation of J&K special status, etc. were public protests related to current issues, and right to protest was a constitutionally guaranteed right.

It is well settled that “Government established by law” has to be distinguished from persons for the time being engaged in carrying on the administration. A protest against policies and decisions of the government, even if it is wrong a wrong cause, cannot be termed as sedition or an intentional act to support cession or secession”, the court observed, says a LiveLaw report.

The Court further noted the mere possession of books on Communist ideology, Maoism, class struggle, etc., does not prove anything adverse against the accused.

“It becomes adverse only when there is any positive act from the side of the accused to instigate violence. Prima facie there is nothing to suggest any overt act on the side of the accused in this regard”, the Court said.

The Court pointed out that the NIA dropped Section 20 of UAPA(which relates to membership of banned organization) from the chargesheet, which shows that even the NIA does not have a case that the accused are members of Maoist organizations.