Shoma Kanti Sen vs State Of Maharashtra 2024 INSC 269 :: [2024] 4 S.C.R. 270 – UAPA – Bail

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967; Section 15 – Sub-section (1) of Section 15 refers to certain acts which would constitute a terrorist act but the first part of sub-section (1) of Section 15 cannot be read in isolation. In our reading of the said provision of the statute, to qualify for being a terrorist act, such act must be done with intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security or sovereignty of India or such act must be accompanied with an intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country. These are initial requirements to invoke Section 15(1) of the 1967 Act. The legislature, however, has not left the nature of such acts unspecified and in sub-clauses (a), (b), and (c) of the said sub-section, the law stipulates the manner of commission of the acts specified in first part of sub-section (1) of said Section 15. If any offender attempts to commit any of the acts specified in Section 15(1), to come within the ambit of the expression “terrorist act” under the 1967 legislation, action or intention to cause such act must be by those means, which have been specified in sub-clauses (a), (b), and (c) of the said provision. (Para 30)

Constitution of India, 1950; Article 21- Bail Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967– Right of an accused under the offences of the 1967 Act to be enlarged on bail founding such right on Article 21 of the Constitution of India -Long period of incarceration held to be a valid ground to enlarge an accused on bail in spite of the bail restricting provision of Section 43D (5) of the 1967 Act. Preconviction detention is necessary to collect evidence (at the investigation stage), to maintain purity in the course of trial and also to prevent an accused from being fugitive from justice. Such detention is also necessary to prevent further commission of offence by the same accused. Depending on gravity and seriousness of the offence alleged to have been committed by an accused, detention before conclusion of trial at the investigation and post-chargesheet stage has the sanction of law broadly on these reasonings. But any form of deprival of liberty results in breach of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and must be justified on the ground of being reasonable, following a just and fair procedure and such deprival must be proportionate in the facts of a given case. These would be the overarching principles which the law Courts would have to apply while testing prosecution’s plea of pre-trial detention, both at investigation and post-chargesheet stage – Referred to K.A. Najeeb -vs- Union of India [(2021) 3 SCC 713] (Para 38)

Summary : Accused charged under Sections 153A, 501(1)(b), 117, 120B, 121, 121A, 124A & 34 of the 1860 Code read with Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18B, 20, 4 38, 39 & 40 of the 1967 Act – Granting her bail, SC observed: Taking cognizance of the composite effect of delay in framing charge, period of detention undergone by her, the nature of allegations against her vis-à-vis the materials available before this Court at this stage in addition to her age and medical condition, we do not think she ought to be denied the privilege of being enlarged on bail pending further process subsequent to issue of chargesheets against her in the subject-case -Evidence of her involvement in any fund-raising activities for the CPI (Maoist) or her support to the said organisation has not transpired through any reliable evidence before us at this stage – In our prima facie opinion, the allegations of the prosecution that the appellant is a member of a terrorist organisation or that she associates herself or professes to associate herself with a terrorist organization are not true, and at this stage, she cannot be implicated in the offence under Sections 38 of 1967 Act -Allegations against her only reveal her participation in some meetings and her attempt to encourage women to join the struggle for new democratic revolution. These allegations, prima facie, do not reveal the commission of an offence under Section 18 of the 1967 Act – the prosecution has not been able to corroborate or even raise a hint of corroboration of the allegation that the appellant has funded any terrorist act or has received any money for that purpose.

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