The Supreme Court on Thursday granted bail to Thwaha Fasal, one of the two students arrested by the National Investigation Agency in November 2019 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for their alleged Maoist links.
The Bench also confirmed the bail granted by the lower court and High Court to co-accused Alan Shuhaib, a third-year law student.
The judgment was delivered by a Bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and AS Oka in the bail plea filed by Fasal, against Kerala High Court’s verdict to cancel bail granted to him by the special court.
In this regard, the Court dismissed the appeal filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) against the High Court verdict.
The apex court also dismissed the appeal filed by the Union of India challenging the Kerala High Court judgment affirming the trial court’s order granting bail to law student Allan Shuaib in a UAPA case registered over alleged Maoist link.
The police had allegedly seized objectionable printed and written materials from them which include violent exhortations for civil war, in tune with Maoist ideology.
What was the case?
Fasal and Shuaib, who are students of Journalism and Law respectively and CPI(M)’s branch committee members, were arrested on November 2, 2019 from Kozhikode, causing widespread criticism in the Left-ruled state.
In 2019, Fazal and Shuhaib had been protesting against the encounter killing of four people suspected to be Maoists in the Manjeekkandi forest of Attappady in Palakkad district. The four people had been killed by the Kerala Thunderbolts, a special force of the police that carries out counterinsurgency operations. While the police force claimed that they had shot the 4 people for self defence, the killings were widely condemned by various parties, and termed as a ‘fake encounter’.
At the time, the CPI, the second largest constituent of the Left Democratic Front after the CPI(M), had submitted a report to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan taking the stand that it was a fake encounter. They took the stand that although they did not agree with the Maoists, it was undemocratic to simply kill them in fake encounters, and the LDF, by and large, agreed that the Maoist issue should be treated as more of a socio-economic problem than a law and order one.
A police patrolling team had allegedly spotted Fazal and Shuhaib under “suspicious circumstances” and seized the leaflets they were distributing which were allegedly promoting Maoism. They were taken into custody and their homes were searched, where the police gathered more “material” as evidence of their pro-Maoist links. These materials included books titled “Caste Issues in India” and “Organizational democracy – disagreement with Lenin”, portraits of Che Guevara, poster images reading “Ban UAPA”, “Kurdistan Solidarity network Kerala”, images of a CPIM flag, photo of Maoist leader Roopesh, an image of a hanging PM Modi, and so on.