Kerala

UAPA mindlessly applied in scores of cases

An internal inquiry by the State Police Department has reportedly concluded that law enforcers erroneously applied the provisions of the harsh Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in scores of cases.

Widespread public criticism that the police had mindlessly applied the stringent law against human right activists, freethinkers and liberals had prompted the police last year to constitute a committee headed by State Police Chief (SPC) Loknath Behera to review an estimated 162 UAPA cases registered in the State since 2012.

Officials said the committee is learnt to have decided to rescrutinise 42 such cases and file petitions in court for their withdrawal, if need be.

Most of the cases slated for withdrawal were registered in connection with suspected Maoist and religious fundamentalist activity in the northern districts of Malappuram, Palakkad, and Wayanad.

The cases had entailed the arrest of scores of persons on the suspicion of ‘aiding’ Maoists and ‘abetting’ sedition. Several more were held for sticking posters deemed ‘divisive’ and ‘lampooning the electoral process’.

The SPC has sought the details of persons arrested under the UAPA in the past five years from the District Police Chiefs concerned. (The law entails detention of suspects with diminished scope for bail.) Several UAPA charged suspects have gone underground to avoid arrest.

The ‘awkward’ detention of International Film Festival of Kerala delegates on the suspicion of ‘disrespecting’ the national anthem, the sedition case against writer Kamal. C. Chavara and UAPA charge against human rights activist Nadir and the killing of Maoists in Malappuram last year had drawn criticism that democratically vibrant and non-restrictive Kerala society was under the tightening stranglehold of a police State.

The police had drawn open disapproval from either side of the political spectrum and earned severe censure in the social media.

The SPC has also ordered that law enforcers would henceforth require the concurrence of District Police Chief to investigate and prosecute offences deemed to be unlawful activity or those that affected the sovereignty, security and integrity of the country. He also asked officers to ensure that offence charged should be commensurate to the crime committed.


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 8:34:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/uapa-mindlessly-applied-in-scores-of-cases/article18111094.ece

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