The Karnataka High Court, while granting bail to a person charged with terror offences, has held that attending jihadi meetings, purchasing training materials, and organising training shelters for members of an organisation that is not banned by the government under the UAPA will not amount to a “terrorist act”.
Ordering bail, a Division Bench of Justice B Veerappa and Justice S Rachaiah was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench: “Admittedly, in the present case, the prosecution has not proved that accused no 11 has associated himself with any organization which is prohibited or barred under the provisions of the UA(P) Act. Admittedly, he is a member of Al-Hind group. It is not a prohibited organization under the Schedule of the UA(P) Act, 1967 and the chargesheet material does not depict that he was convicted for the offences involved or crimes or terrorist activities… there are no reasonable grounds for for believing the accusation against the accused no 11 prima facie true.”
While the court noted that as per the chargesheet, the accused had attended several conspiracy meetings, undergone pistol and bow and arrow training and purchased training materials that would not amount to offence under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) since the organisation was not banned by the government.
The prosecution had argued that a case was registered against 17 accused and later transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which during the probe found more information about them.
Of these, two accused filed for bail, which was rejected by the trial court on the grounds that there was sufficient material indicating their involvement in the alleged crime. The accused then approached the high court, appealing against the decision of the trial court.
The counsel for the accused argued that the order of the trial court was erroneous, as both of them are members of the Al-Hind group which is not a banned terrorist organisation as contemplated under Schedule 1 (Terrorist Organizations) of the UAPA.
The court, while considering the case, noted that when such an application under UAPA is filed by the accused, the court has to consider whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that the case against them is prima facie true.