Person can be prosecuted for ‘terrorist act’ under UAPA even if he is not member of terrorist organisation: Karnataka HC

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The Karnataka High Court recently held that an individual can be prosecuted for a terrorist act under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), even though he/ she is not a member of any banned outfit or terrorist organisation [Irfan Pasha vs National Investigation Agency].

A division bench of Justices K Somashekar and Shivashankar Amarannavar, therefore, refused to grant bail to two members of the Popular Front of India (PFI), booked for killing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker Rudresh with the intention of creating terror amongst the members of the right-wing outfit.

“An individual can be prosecuted for terrorist act defined under Section 15 of the UAPA law and it is not necessary that to prosecute any person under this law he should be a member of a terrorist organization. Being a member of a terrorist gang or organization which is involved in terrorist act itself is an offence under Section 20 of the Act. Therefore, the contention of the appellants that individuals who are not members of banned organization cannot be prosecuted for offence under UAPA does not hold any substance,” the Court held in its judgment pronounced on July 1.

The bench was seized of the criminal appeals filed by Irfan Pasha (32) and Mohammad Mujib Ulla (46) challenging an order dated April 21, 2021 passed by a special court denying them bail.

The duo were among the five men booked by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for killing RSS activist Rudresh on October 16, 2016.

As per the prosecution case, the five men led by one Asim Shariff, who is said to be the president of PFI, had conspired to kill uniformed members of the RSS to create terror among the RSS ranks.

The Court in its order, noted that none of the five accused had any personal animosity with the deceased.

“There was no animosity between the five accused and deceased Rudresh. The alleged act of murdering him has been committed with an intention to create terror in the mind of members of RSS,” the bench held.

The bench further took into account the material in the chargesheet filed by the NIA and said that the trial court rightly came to the conclusion that there was a prima facie case against the accused persons to show their involvement in the crime.

“Therefore, as per the provisions contained under Section 43(D)(5) of the UAPA, the accused persons facing charge under the provisions of the said Act are not entitled for bail unless the Court comes to the conclusion that there is no prima facie case against them,” the Court said while rejecting the appeals.

Advocate S Balakrishnan appeared for the accused.

Special Public Prosecutor P Prasanna Kumar represented the NIA.

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