The Supreme Court on Thursday granted bail to Thwaha Fasal, a journalism student in his twenties, accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for having Maoist links.
A Bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and A.S. Oka also rejected an appeal filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) challenging the bail granted to Alan Shuhaib, a third-year law student and Fasal’s co-accused in the case.
The court said the youth from Kerala were arrested in November 2019. While a trial court granted them bail, the Kerala High Court cancelled Fasal’s bail while not interfering with Shuhaib’s. The judgment read out by Justice Oka set aside the High Court decision concerning Fasal and restored the order of the Special Court, which had enlarged him on bail.
A charge sheet filed by the NIA accused the youth of harbouring and associating with a banned Maoist outfit.
Additional Solicitor-General S.V. Raju, for the NIA, had argued that the youth, by inference, were “members” of the banned organisation. Members, if found guilty, were sentenced up to life in prison under the UAPA. In contrast, association or supporting a banned organisation attracts either a fine or a few years in prison under the Act.
Mr. Raju said the NIA would apply for sanction under Section 20 of the UAPA, which deals with punishment for being a member of a terrorist organisation. However, the court made it clear that it would examine the two petitions regarding bail with the charges arraigned in the charge sheet.
“You can do whatever you want, but we have to go with what is provided to us,” Justice Rastogi had said before the case was reserved for judgment.
Senior advocate R. Basant and advocate Raghenth Basant had countered the NIA’s dismissal of Shuhaib’s plea that he had psychiatric issues. Mr. Raju had even questioned the truth behind the plea, saying Shuhaib was attending college.