Mere mentions of “Khalistani” on social media accounts of accused not proof of being terrorist: Punjab & Haryana High Court

The Court, therefore, granted bail to a man accused of having Khalistani links and charged for offences under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act

Khalistani

The Punjab and Haryana High Court last week granted bail to a man accused of having Khalistani links and charged for offences under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly testing bombs and abetting the commission of terrorist offences.

The Court was hearing an appeal against an order of Special NIA Judge dismissing the accused person’s bail application on the ground that he was associated with a terrorist gang to support the Khalistan movement.

“Mainly because there are some Khalistani mentions spotted in his social media account which are of offending nature as reproduced above which show that there are two mobile numbers that have been saved under the title ‘Guri Khalistani’ and another mobile number wherein the entry reads as ‘Khalistan Jindabad’ would not as such be conclusive proof that the appellant is a member of a terrorist group,” the order said.

The case of being heard by a Bench of Justices GS Sandhawalia and Vikas Suri.

However, the High Court found that the accusations were unconvincing and allowed the appeal.

“It can be safely recorded that the accusation is not prima facie true and he is entitled for the benefit of regular bail during the pendency of the trial,” the Court ordered.

The appellant was held under Section 304 (culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 4 and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and Section 13 and 20 of the UAPA.

He was arrested for testing an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the year 2016 with a co-accused who died during the pendency of trial. Before his death, the co-accused made an extra-judicial confession that the appellant was with him when he had exploded a test bomb.

mere Khalistani mentions on the social media accounts of the accused and numbers saved with references of Khalistan did not prove that the appellant was a member of the terrorist group

The Special Judge, while dismissing the bail application, had reasoned that the appellant’s association with the other arrested persons established his nefarious intention and pro-Khalistan activities. While observing this, the incriminating material collected by the prosecution from his mobile phone and WhatsApp account were relied on.

The counsel appearing for the appellant argued that he was named as accused only on account of his meeting with the other accused which led to the allegation that the appellant had become “highly radicalised”.

It was stated that there was nothing on record to show that he was actually a member of any terrorist gang or involved in illegal activity.

The Court was informed that the appellant had been in custody for 2 years and 4 months.
On examining the chargesheet, the Division Bench opined that there was nothing incriminating against the appellant. It was pointed out that the investigation only showed the appellant was in contact with one of the accused, but no material was put forth to show his connection with the other eight.

Further, the Bench stressed that it was a settled position of law that a confession made before the police was weak evidence. “It is a rampant practice by the police/investigation agency to use third degree methods for extracting confession,” the Court observed.

The Court, therefore, concluded that keeping in view the fact that the appellant had been in custody for a long time and the trial was not likely to be concluded in the near future, he was entitled to the benefit of bail during the trial’s pendency.

Donate

Independent journalism can’t be independent without your support, contribute by clicking below.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here