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Person can be prosecuted under UAPA Act, even if he is not part of terrorist organisation: Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court stated that a person can be charged with a “terrorist act” as defined by Section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) (UAPA) Act, 1967, even though they are not affiliated with any militant groups through A division bench of Justice K Somashekhar and Justice Shivashankar Amarannavar in the case of Irfan Pasha vs National Investigation Agency (CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.755/2021)

FACTS OF THE CASE:

The appellants were charged with crimes punishable under Sections 302, 201 read with Section 34 of the IPC, Sections 3 and 27 of the Arms Act, and Sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. They were accused Nos. 1 through 4 in the case before the Special Court in Bangalore. They submitted an application under Section 20 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, asking for the case to be transferred to a regular Sessions Court on the grounds that the charge sheet submitted is flawed insofar as offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and the Special Court is therefore not authorised to hear the case.

The application was rejected, against which a Criminal Appeal has been filed.

An appeal to the Court is maintainable, according to learned counsel for the appellants, because the order at issue in the appeal is not an interlocutory order as defined by sub-section (1) of Section 21 of the Act. He argued that if the accused’s request to have the case transferred to the regular Sessions Court were granted, the proceedings before the learned Special Court would have come to a close and the prosecution would not be able to pursue charges against the appellants for the offences covered by Sections 15, 16, 17, and 20 of the UAPA Act, 1967. Additionally, he argued that the prosecution’s receipt of a competent authority’s approval to file a charge sheet against the appellants for violations of the 1967 Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act rendered the sanction it received ineffective and without jurisdiction. His argument was that the Special Court should have approved the application.

Sri.P.Prasanna Kumar, learned Special Public Prosecutor, argued that as the contested order is interlocutory, an appeal to this Court is expressly prohibited by sub-section (1) of Section 21 of the Act. According to the learned Special Public Prosecutor, the only practical way to tell whether an appeal against the challenged order can be filed with the High Court is to ascertain whether by upholding the grounds raised by appellants, proceedings against appellants would have been terminated.

JUDGEMENT:

The Court held that in the present case, the order impugned in the appeal is an interlocutory order rejecting the transfer application and as such, the appeal preferred by the appellants is not maintainable.

It was observed that “An individual can be prosecuted for terrorist act defined under Section 15 of the UAP Act and it is not necessary that to prosecute any person under the UPA Act he should be a member of a terrorist organization. Being a member of a terrorist gang or organization which is involved in terrorist Act itself is an offence under Section 20 of the UAP Act.”

Thus, the criminal appeal was dismissed on grounds of not being maintainable.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY REETI SHETTY

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