The High Court of Kerala has held that ‘‘being a Maoist is of no crime, though the political ideology of the Maoist will not synchronise with our constitutional polity.” The “police cannot detain a person merely because he is a Maoist, unless the police form a reasonable opinion that his activities are unlawful.”
The court ordered the State to pay a compensation of Rs.1 lakh and Rs.10,000 as cost to the petitioner Shyam Balakrishnan from Wayanad in the case. In his judgment on Friday, Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque held that “if the Maoist organisation is a proscribed organisation under the law, activities of the Maoist organisation can be interfered. If the individual or organisation abhors and resorts to physical violence, the law agency can prevent or take action against the individual or organisation.”
In this case, “the facts will clearly indicate that the petitioner was arrested as a suspected Maoist. At the relevant time, the police had no clue about the offence committed by the petitioner. The only reason on which the petitioner was arrested was that he was a suspected Maoist. No doubt, the police, on realising the mistake, released the petitioner without registering a case,” the judgment said.
The judgment pointed out that the “police violated the liberty of the petitioner by taking him into custody without satisfying that the petitioner was involved in any cognisable offence punishable under law.”
‘‘The police version that the petitioner was rescued from the agitated mob cannot be believed. The General Diary and other action on the part of the police in searching the house of the petitioner will clearly indicate that the petitioner was taken into custody as a suspected Maoist,” the judgment said.
The State, the judgment said, “stridently defended the police action as part of duty to combat Maoist. The liberty of the individual, however small or high, had to be protected. The police should display sensitiveness and appeal to the intelligence while exercising the power bestowed on them. Any aberration on this exercise resulting deprivation even by mistake has to be owned up with responsibility to create a sense of accountability to honour a citizen,” the court pointed out.