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Gold Smuggling Can’t Be Treated As ‘Terrorist Act’ Under UAPA: Rajasthan High Court

In the case Azaz Khan v. N.I.A. through Special PP (D.B Criminal Appeal No. 132/2021), The division bench of Justice Pankaj Bhandari and Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand, of Rajasthan High Court observed that Customs Act is not included in Schedule-II of the UA(P)A and thus smuggling of gold and that too of a quantity which is bailable under the Customs Act cannot be treated as Terrorist act. 

FACTS OF THE CASE:

On 03.07.2020, 10 accused persons were apprehended by Custom Officers at Jaipur Airport, while attempting to smuggle gold into India from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at Jaipur Airport and a case was registered under Section 135 of the Customs Act. As the gold seized from each of these accused was valued at less than Rs. 1 Crore and the tax or the custom duty thereon was less than 50 lakh and therefore, all of them were released on bail in the Customs Act case. On akin facts, an FIR was registered for offence u/s 17 of UA(P)A and S. 120B of IPC by National Investigation Agency (NIA). The accused-appellants moved bail application u/s 439 CrPC, which were rejected by the Special Judge (N.I.A. Cases), Jaipur, aggrieved by which, present appeals have been preferred before this court.

JUDGEMENT:

The Court while allowing the appeals and releasing the accused-appellant on bail, observed, “Customs Act is not included in Schedule-II of the UA(P)A, thus smuggling of gold and that too of a quantity, which is bailable under the Customs Act cannot be treated as a Terrorist Act.” The other accused persons, who as per the investigation, were labourers and had lost their employment due to COVID were asked to carry gold in lieu of the tickets. There was no material whatsoever to come to the concussion that they intended to commit any terrorist act so as to damage the economic security of the country.

JUDGEMENT REIVIEWED BY ANAGHA K BHARADWAJ

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