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Updated: September 27, 2012 01:36 IST

Don’t give terror tag to innocent minority people: Supreme Court

J. Venkatesan
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Police must ensure that no innocent person has the feeling of sufferance only because “my name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist,” a Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad said on Wednesday. File photo
The Hindu
Police must ensure that no innocent person has the feeling of sufferance only because “my name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist,” a Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad said on Wednesday. File photo

Ensure that no innocent has the feeling of sufferance only because ‘my name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist,’ Bench tells Police

No innocent person should be branded a terrorist and put behind bars simply because he belongs to a minority community, the Supreme Court has told the Gujarat Police.

Police must ensure that no innocent person has the feeling of sufferance only because “my name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist,” a Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad said on Wednesday.

It ordered the acquittal of 11 persons, arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and other laws, and convicted for allegedly planning to create communal violence during the Jagannath Puri Yatra in Ahmedabad in 1994.

“We emphasise and deem it necessary to repeat that the gravity of the evil to the community from terrorism can never furnish an adequate reason for invading personal liberty, except in accordance with the procedure established by the Constitution and the law,” the Bench said.

Being an anti-terrorist law, the TADA’s provisions could not be liberally construed, the Bench said. “The District Superintendent of Police and the Inspector-General and all others entrusted with operating the law must not do anything which allows its misuse and abuse and [must] ensure that no innocent person has the feeling of sufferance only because ‘My name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist’.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Prasad said: “We appreciate the anxiety of the police officers entrusted with preventing terrorism and the difficulty faced by them. Terrorism is a crime far serious in nature, graver in impact and highly dangerous in consequence. It can put the nation in shock, create fear and panic and disrupt communal peace and harmony. This task becomes more difficult when it is done by organised groups with outside support.”

‘Means more important’

But in the country of the Mahatma, the “means are more important than the end. Invoking the TADA without following the safeguards, resulting in acquittal, gives an opportunity to many and also to the enemies of the country to propagate that it has been misused and abused.”In this case, Ashraf Khan and 10 others, who were convicted under the TADA, the Arms Act and the IPC were aggrieved that no prior approval of the SP, as mandated under the provisions, was obtained before their arrest and recording of statements.

Appeal allowed

Allowing their appeals against a Gujarat TADA court order, the Bench said: “From a plain reading of the provision, it is evident that no information about the commission of an offence shall be recorded by the police without the prior approval of the District Superintendent of Police. An Act which is harsh, containing stringent provisions and prescribing a procedure substantially departing from the prevalent ordinary procedural law, cannot be construed liberally. For ensuring rule of law its strict adherence has to be ensured.”

The Bench said: “In view of our finding that their conviction is vitiated on account of non-compliance with the mandatory requirement of prior approval under Section 20-A(1) of the TADA, the confessions recorded cannot be looked into to establish the guilt under the aforesaid Acts. Hence, the conviction of the accused under Sections 7 and 25(1A) of the Arms Act and 4, 5 and 6 of the Explosive Substances Act cannot also be allowed to stand.”

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Though a good decision, yet this is far from full justice as those who falsely framed them went unpunished.

from:  Imran Ansari
Posted on: Sep 28, 2012 at 14:01 IST

By the same logic: Don't give communal tag to every majority

from:  kvjayan
Posted on: Sep 28, 2012 at 11:54 IST

Neither terror tag nor a criminal tag should be given to innocent people, be they majority or minority. It is important for the government to define various type of serious crimes and police measures to deal with them so that law enforcement officials are not forced to choose Either or. Or.

from:  Som Karamchetty
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 21:31 IST

great verdict ??? what about the lost years , the grief of their
families,the pain, the tears no one has the answer for that, the justice
is done when the people who arrested them, and the judge who punished
them all should serve 18 years in jail that is called justice

from:  suhail
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 17:41 IST

SC's decision is fine and will go a long way to protect the minority groups. But in states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, M.P. which have been declared as 'red corridor' the central & state govts are waging a war against the poorest of the poor Adivasi people where mere suspicion by local police has landed thousands in jail. Jharkhand alone has about 6000 innocent Adivasi under-trial prisoners. They are mostly young, all of them poor and even don't know why they have been arrested.
It will be up to human rights groups to come to their rescue using this verdict of the SC.
Stan Swamy
Ranchi, Jharkhand

from:  Stan Swamy
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 16:00 IST

Do not understand such judgements given by the courts and too after 18 long years!! The judges did not say anything about why they found them innocent instead dismissed the case based on technicalites.

If a case is dismissed based on technicalities, does the accused automatically become innocent. Think the courts should decide the case based on its nature and evidences provided rather than go on technicalities.

Instead the court should punish the law enforcers for break the rule of law and punish them as well. The same happened in CBI case against Mayawati.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 14:37 IST

Kudos to the supreme court decision.I request the government to make judgement as early as possible with these sensitive doubtful cases.They lost their life of 18 years span.i do completely with M.Ateeque views.The government should provide Compensation/jobs for those 11 innocent people.

from:  Balakrishna D
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 13:41 IST

Highly appreciable decision of Supereme Court... which actually strengthens ones believe in the Judiciary System of India....India is Great...We live here UNITED with such a DIVERSITY which I dont know if there is any other country exists.... Everywhere the influence of the power exits and so as the control, but long live India which has always given the National Heros who stand against such corrupt political power and contribute in their territory and give India a recognition of a Perfect state. JAI HIND

from:  Syed Munawar
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 12:43 IST

What about the life of these young men who lost there life?? Who will compensate?? And what about the officials who are behind this heinous crime of framing innocence?? Who will punish them??

from:  Suhail KK
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 12:40 IST

Against the backdrop of today's rock-bottom ground reality, the Supreme Court's reminder on individual rights that cannot be violated even in terror-related cases comes as a reminder more of the magnitude of the state's complicity in the detention and torture of innocents than of the magnanimous and just nature of our constitution and judiciary. Today, every reminder of what our constitution really stands for is actually a slap in the face of those who framed it in the first place: such is the extent to which it is violated and mocked upon now by the actions of its executives - and, of course, all in the name of national security. Constitution, or no constitution, this country is fast deteriorating into a Nation of Fear.

from:  Biju
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 12:32 IST

Our judiciary system is the only hope and guardian of our country. Let there be mass campaign to make this august body to be more independent from all political influence.

from:  Khaleelullah
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 12:31 IST

Muslim leaders should also condemn acts of terrorism.Such a condemnation inspires and convinces the average citizen of the innocense of the majority of the minority community.

from:  nanduri somaya
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 11:33 IST

It is great lessons given to authority that 'No innocent person should be branded a terrorist and put behind bars simply because he belongs to a minority community.
The authority should judge by themselves and not on the pressure from the crook politicians for their survival. It is damaging the society and integrity and growth of Great India.

Muslim do showing our sincerity for growth of Great India.

from:  HajaMohideen
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 11:12 IST

An innocent person being given a criminal tag, be it a terrorist or petty thief, is against the fundamental principles of Indian judiciary. The misuse of laws by law-enforcing agencies are not confined to any minority group. If reports of Human Rights organisations are tobe believed, hundreds of innocent people, irrespective of their religion or class, are booked under false or fabricated cases, including sedition charges, and lodged in prisons across the country. If registration of a case or arrest of the accused is a prerogative of the investigation officer, then he/she must be held responsible for the decision if the suspect is found "not guilty" at a later stage. After all, loopholes in law not only help in arresting but also in getting an acquittal. If doctors can be held responsible for a wrong treatment, why not the police for a wrong decision. The police should not be allowed to implicate an innocent man and finally get away with it. A criminal case is a permanent scar...

from:  Vijay Kumar S
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 10:56 IST

A loudabble directive. It needs no emphasis that no innocent person in general, should be branded as terrorist without due process/ procedure established by the laws of the land.

from:  kartik
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 10:10 IST

Sir, It is true that no innocent minority communal person can be branded as a terrorist. Terrorists belongs to every community as they have a fanatical extremism by upholding their religion. But at the same time as of now most of terrorist activities happened all over the world is pointing towards muslim community only. Even US President Obama said muslims are mostly affected people of terrorism and remember he himself is a musalman. In this particular case of Jagannath Puri Yatra in Ahmedabad in 1994 - it was Congress govt. ruling at that time namely Chhabildas Mehta 17 February 1994 14 March 1995 1 Indian National Congress has used TADA against those minority people. Hence, it clearly portrayed how pseudo secular mindset that INC is in possession. Finally my request to the minority people is beware of pseudo secular nature of congress rather than others

from:  N. Swaminathan
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 09:03 IST

This is similar to what happened to Tamils in Sri Lanka

from:  Sharan Chennai
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 08:42 IST

BUt what about the rehabilitation of those who lost the most precious years of their life rotting in jails & then got acquitted becoz the charges framed by the Police against them couldn't stand strong in Supreme Court?In this case these 11 men lost 18 years of their life in the prison(total=198 yrs).(Last year also there was another young man in Delhi who was acquitted after being imprisoned for more than a 13 years on purely fabricated and unsustainable charges).The question is-what would they do after returning to their families?
Now the problem is these men aftr spending so many years in Jail aren't left with any skill to make a living, the result is a group of 11 men isolated from society for the rest of their life--disgruntled with their own country- can become potential easy targets of terror (hiring)cells.If there was any goverment funded institution that could impart any skill to these men, they(acquitted individuals)would be in condition good enough to move-on with life.

from:  M.Ateeque
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 07:35 IST

The Supreme Court has echoed the secular credentials of our country. Mere suspicion should not be the ruse of the police to detain a person for alleged complicity in an act of terror. Also the defencers of law and order should have a time frame within which the alleged charges against the suspects are substantiated with clear evidence and eye witness. Endless detention does not serve the ends of justice. Irrespective of the community one belongs to law should be applied uniformly. At the same time it is essential that the majority of the minority community members join the main stream of life and do not isolate themselves in ghetto like habitats inviting suspicion. Literacy and availability of opportunities too would play a big part in the emancipation of the minorities and the majority community has to take the lead in making the conditions conducive for them to feel at ease.

from:  R.Vijaykumar
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 06:06 IST

Long live India.... Only on the basis of justice and equality, love and brotherhood

from:  Saeed Bhura
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 05:17 IST

This judgement is fine act of balancing - Importance of the rule of the law. It just proves the point, that in the interest of the justice investigating and prosecuting agencies can not float the rule of the law. There are no exceptions. Not for TADA cases and not for any other case in general. If the confession is tainted it must be discarded. Howsoever difficult it may turn out it to be. It would do a tremendous amount of harm if the officers did not follow the procedure and a terrorist is let go on technical details.

from:  Krishna Dammanna
Posted on: Sep 27, 2012 at 02:28 IST
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