Mere membership of banned outfit now an offence under UAPA, Supreme Court overrules 2011order : The Tribune India

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Mere membership of banned outfit now an offence under UAPA, Supreme Court overrules 2011order

Mere membership of banned outfit now an offence under UAPA, Supreme Court overrules 2011order

A mere membership of an unlawful association is sufficient to constitute an offence under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday. - File photo



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, March 24

A mere membership of an unlawful association is sufficient to constitute an offence under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

Centre flags growing terror threat

  • After 2011 judgment of SC, many HCs started releasing members of banned outfits
  • Centre urged SC to reconsider matter, saying India faced growing threat from terror outfits

Overruling a 2011 verdict by a two-judge Bench which read down Section 10(a)(i) of the UAPA, a three-judge Bench led by Justice MR Shah upheld the validity of the provision that gave wider powers to probe agencies to deal with those associated with organisations declared ‘unlawful’ under the anti-terror Act.

The 2011 verdict said, “The mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence.” However, declaring the 2011 verdict as “bad in law”, the Bench – which also included Justice CT Ravi Kumar and Justice Sanjay Karol – said Section 10(a)(i) of the UAPA was “absolutely in consonance with” constitutional provisions.

Noting that the UAPA aimed to prevent certain unlawful activities and to punish a member of an unlawful organisation in furtherance of the provisions of the UAPA, the top court said, “Thus Section 10(a)(i) is absolutely in consonance with Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(2) of the Constitution and thus in consonance with the objectives of the UAPA.”

The Bench agreed with the Centre’s contention that the provision in question could not have been read down by the 2011 verdict as it was not challenged, and the government was not heard on the crucial issue.

The top court had on February 9 reserved its verdict on a reference made in 2014 by a two-judge Bench in view of the judgments in two cases decided by a Bench led by Justice Markandey Katju (since retired) that negated the theory of ‘guilt by association’. The Centre had urged the top court to reconsider the matter, saying the order posed a risk as India faced growing threat from terror outfits, including those from Pakistan.

Following the 2011 judgments of the top court, many high courts had started releasing members of banned organisations, making it difficult for security agencies to deal with increasing security challenges.

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