IS case: Kerala woman guilty of criminal conspiracy, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday found a woman, who had left India to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS), guilty on counts of criminal conspiracy and association with a terrorist organisation with intention to further its activities.

A Bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and Indu Malhotra however disagreed with the Centre that the young woman, who hails from Kerala, waged war or attempted/abetted war against the government of any Asiatic power in alliance with or at peace with the government of India. The court further found that she was not guilty, as the Centre claimed, of raising funds for the IS or garnering support for the terror outfit by arranging and managing meetings to encourage support for the outfit. The IS is declared a terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Yasmeen Mohammad Zahid was caught with her child at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on August 1, 2016 while on her way to Afghanistan to join her husband.

According to a complaint received by the local police in Kerala in July 2016, Yasmeen, a native of Kasargod district, had first left India with 14 others, including her husband to join the IS. She was the only one to stand trial among them.

The Special Court for National Investigation Agency cases, in March 2018, found her guilty for offences charged under the Indian Penal Code and the UAPA. She was accused and found guilty of joining a criminal conspiracy to leave India and joining the IS in Afghanistan; of being an active participant supporting its terrorist activities; and of having raised/received funds to further its activities of. She was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of ₹25,000 as fine under the charge of conspiracy.

Admitting her appeal, the Kerala High Court found no material to support the prosecution claim that she attempted or waged war with an Asiatic power. Nor did it support the finding that she had raised funds for the outfit. The money found on her at the IGI Airport was for her own and her baby’s travel use. The Court further concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that she had arranged or addressed meetings to further the IS activities.

However, the apex court found her guilty of association, saying she had attended classes propagating its ideology by her husband.

“There is evidence to prove that the second accused (Yasmeen) was associated with A1 (her husband) who propagated the IS ideology and had gone even to the extent of joining him. Her attempt to proceed to Afghanistan was with a clear intention to meet first accused and to involve in IS related activities. Therefore she is punishable under Section 38(2) of UAPA,” the Court had found.

However, the High Court, on grounds of sympathy, had reduced her prison sentence from seven years to three years.

The Supreme Court upheld the finding that there was only material to convict her for association and criminal conspiracy. It however found no reason to reduce her sentence out of sheer sympathy. It restored the punishment awarded to her by the NIA court for the two counts.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 12:28:24 PM |

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