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Payment Of Extortion Money Does Not Amount To Terror Funding: Supreme Court Grants Bail To UAPA Accused

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
9 April 2021 1:37 PM GMT
Payment Of Extortion Money Does Not Amount To Terror Funding: Supreme Court Grants Bail To UAPA Accused
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Payment of extortion money does not amount to terror funding, the Supreme Court observed while granting bail to an accused arrested under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA].In this case, the bail application of Sudesh Kedia was dismissed by the High Court on a finding that he had been paying extortion money, and thus contributed to funding of the terrorist organization. The High...

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Payment of extortion money does not amount to terror funding, the Supreme Court observed while granting bail to an accused arrested under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA].

In this case, the bail application of Sudesh Kedia was dismissed by the High Court on a finding that he had been paying extortion money, and thus contributed to funding of the terrorist organization. The High Court observed that there is material on record to show that he was in constant touch with the members of the terrorist organization in order to run his business. 

In appeal, the accused contended that the only accusation is payment of illegal levy to TPC for the smooth functioning of the business and is not a member of TPC and cannot be accused of terror funding. On the other hand, there was no way he could carry on smooth transportation of coal without meeting the demand of the terrorist organization. The meeting that the accused had with the members of the organization could not have been avoided and it was only for the purpose of his complying with the demand made by the members of the organization, it was contended.

The court observed that, while considering the grant of bail under Section 43 (5) D, it is the bounden duty of the Court to apply its mind to examine the entire material on record for the purpose of satisfying itself, whether a prima facie case is made out against the accused or not.

"Payment of extortion money does not amount to terror funding. It is clear from the supplementary charge-sheet and the other material on record that other accused who are members of the terrorist organization have been systematically collecting extortion amounts from businessmen in Amrapali and Magadh areas. The Appellant is carrying on transport business in the area of operation of the organization. It is alleged in the second supplementary chargesheet that the Appellant paid money to the members of the TPC for smooth running of his business. Prima facie, it cannot be said that the Appellant conspired with the other members of the TPC and raised funds to promote the organization.", the bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat observed.

The court added that it is not satisfied that a case of conspiracy has been made out at this stage only on the ground that the accused met the members of the organization and that the amount seized from the accused is proceeds from terrorist activity. 

Observing thus, the bench set aside the judgment of the High Court and directed to release the accused on bail subject to the satisfaction of the Special Court.

Case: Sudesh Kedia vs. Union of India [CrA 314-315 of 2021]
Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat
Citation: LL 2021 SC 204


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