Supreme Court reserves judgment on bail plea of Thwaha Fasal

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File  

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on a plea for bail filed by 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 reserved its verdict also on 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.

Both youths, from Kerala, were arrested in November 2019. While the trial court granted them bail, the Kerala High Court cancelled Fasal’s bail while not interfering with Shuhaib’s.

A chargesheet filed by the NIA accused the youths of harbouring and associating with the banned Maoist outfit.

Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, for the NIA, argued that the youths, by inference, were ‘members’ of the banned organisation. Members, if found guilty, were sentenced up to life in prison under UAPA. In contrast, association or supporting a banned organisation attracts either fine or only a few years in prison under the Act.

Mr. Raju said the NIA is going to apply for sanction under Section 20 of the UAPA, which deals with punishment for being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Also Read: Terrorism knows no age, NIA tells Supreme Court

But the court on Thursday made it clear that it would examine the two petitions regarding bail with the charges arraigned in the chargesheet.

“You can do whatever you want, but we have to go with what is provided to us,” Justice Rastogi responded.

The court pointed out that since the chargesheet evoked only the offences of association and support to a banned outfit, there may have been no investigation with regard to the duo being members of any Maoist organisation.

Mr. Raju said a person can be inferred to be a member if he did anything to further the activities of the organisation.

“Terror organisations’ activities are not celebrating birthday parties... They are involved in heavy terrorism,” Mr. Raju argued.

Senior advocate R. Basant and advocate Raghenth Basant 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.

“I had psychiatric disability. That was not debilitating... It was not something I had invented... I was not mad or insane. I was feeling rather dull, depressed at one point of time. I am being rehabilitated. Yes, I am attending college,” Mr. Basant submitted on behalf of Shuhaib.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 3:52:40 PM |

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