Saturday, June 22, 2024

Supreme Court cancels bail granted to 8 ‘PFI members’ in UAPA case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday cancelled a Madras high court order granting bail to eight men belonging to the Popular Front of India.

The eight alleged members of the banned PFI were granted bail on October 19, 2023.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Bela Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal claimed that the charges against them including allegations of collecting funds to commit terrorist acts – under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act – appear to be “prima facie true.”

The bench was hearing a plea by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), challenging the high court order of October 2023, LiveLaw reported.

In addition, the bench asked to speed up the trial. 

While setting aside the bail order, the apex court cited several aspects of the case including the  “seriousness of the offences alleged, the period of incarceration being 1.5 years, and the nature of material produced by the NIA.”

The court referred to Section 43D(5) of the UAPA which says that an accused cannot be given bail if the court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against such a person is prima facie true.

“National security is always of paramount importance,” the court said. It added that any act linked to any terrorist act – violent or non-violent – is liable to be restricted, and asked the respondents to surrender to the NIA.

“The impugned order by High Court cannot be sustained. We are conscious of the legal position that we should be slow in interfering with the order when the bail has been granted by the High Court , however it is equally settled that if such order of granting bail is found to be illegal or perverse, it must me set aside,” the court said, according to LiveLaw.

While the Madras high court bench of Justices S.S. Sunder and Sunder Mohan refused to acknowledge the accused’s terror links, the SC, however, relied on a ‘vision document’ produced by the NIA, which showed a “hit list” of several RSS leaders with markings on them.”

The NIA has often claimed that incriminating literature of various kinds, including books and pamphlets are in circulation under the organisation, an allegation the courts have criticised earlier.

Several media organisations have called the NIA raids on PFI leaders, which took place shortly after the organisation was banned, a clear-cut violation of basic rights.

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