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'Mere Membership Of Banned Organization Will Not Lead To Inference Of Committing Terrorist Act'; SC Upholds Bail To Alleged Maoist Sympathiser [Read Order]

Manu Sebastian
29 May 2019 8:02 AM GMT
Mere Membership Of Banned Organization Will Not Lead To Inference Of Committing Terrorist Act; SC Upholds Bail To Alleged Maoist Sympathiser [Read Order]
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The Supreme Court has dismissed the challenge brought by Maharashtra Government against the Bombay High Court's order granting bail to alleged Maoist sympathiser Konnath Muralidharan, who has been in custody in Pune's Yerwada jail since May 2015."No case is made out to interfere with the impugned order passed by the High Court", said the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah in a three...

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The Supreme Court has dismissed the challenge brought by Maharashtra Government against the Bombay High Court's order granting bail to alleged Maoist sympathiser Konnath Muralidharan, who has been in custody in Pune's Yerwada jail since May 2015.

"No case is made out to interfere with the impugned order passed by the High Court", said the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah in a three line order dismissing the special leave petition.

Muralidharan was arrested by Maharasthra Anti Terrorism Squad in May 2015 on the allegation that he was a member of Communist Party of India (Maoist), an organization banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.  Based on the materials seized from him such as Maoist literature, copy of merger declaration of CPI(Maoist) and CPI(Maoist/Leninist)(Naxalbari), a forged PAN card in the name of Thomas Joseph, and few SIM cards and mobile phones, the ATS took him into custody.

In October 2015, the ATS filed charge sheet against him for offences under Section 10 (being member of banned organization), Section 20 (being member of terrorist gang), Section 38(offence relating to membership of terrorist organization), Section 39(supporting terrorist organization) of UAPA. Offences under Indian Penal Code in relation to forgery and impersonation were also included in the chargesheet.

While considering his bail application, Justice Nitin W Sambre of Bombay High Court observed that the ingredients of Section 20 of UAPA were not satisfied by the material collected by the ATS. Section 20 of the UAPA prescribes life imprisonment to any person who is found to be a member of a terrorist gang or a terrorist organisation, which is involved in terrorist act. According to the HC, inference of membership of organization was not sufficient to presume that the accused had indulged in terrorist act.  

"Only part of the satisfaction as contemplated under Section 20 of the Act to mean that the Applicant prima facie was found to be the member of the terrorist organiation can be inferred. That ipso facto will not take this Court to presume that the Applicant has indulged himself in a terrorist act in absence of convincing material to that effect", observed Justice Sambre in the order.

The investigation based on the seizure of incriminating materials has not yielded any result to support the inference that he had indulged in a terrorist act being a member of a terrorist organisation, the HC added.

The other offences were punishable with a term of less than ten years' imprisonment. In this regard, the Court noted that Muralidharan had been behind the bars for over three and half years, since May 2015. 

"..considering the fact that there are no criminal antecedents and the Applicant is behind the bars for more than 3 ½ years, in my opinion, a case for grant of bail is made out", said the Court while ordering his release on bail on condition to furnish a personal release bond of Rs 1 lakh and and one or more sureties in the like amount.

He was alo directed to attend the concerned police station, initially for a period of one year once in a fortnight and thereafter in first week of each month.

Though the High Court had allowed the bail application on February 25, it stayed the release of Muralidharan till May 5 based on the request of the Government for time to file appeal in Supreme Court. On May 8, it had extended the stay by another four weeks.

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Click here to download Bombay HC order

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