The Supreme Court agreed Monday to examine whether mere membership of a banned organisation would make a person a “terrorist” even if he or she doesn’t resort to violence or incites people to violence
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to examine whether mere membership of a banned organisation would make a person a “terrorist” even if he or she doesn’t resort to violence or incites people to violence.
A three-judge bench of Justices J.S. Khehar, V. Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra decided to have a relook at the definition of a “terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other anti-terror laws, after solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar said the 2011 judgment had wide ramifications and all high courts were following it.
In 2011 the Supreme Court held that mere membership of a banned organisation would not make a person a terrorist unless he/she resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence/incitement to violence. The court set aside an order by the designated court in Guwahati convicting Arup Bhuyan under Section 3(5) of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (Tada) for being an Ulfa member. The court held that mere advocacy or teaching the duty, necessity or propriety of violence as a means of accomplishing political or industrial reform was not per se illegal. It will be illegal only if it incites someone to imminent lawless action.
The Centre filed a petition seeking to recall this judgment saying the police couldn’t wait for banned outfit members to carry out acts of terror. It said such a ruling defied logic as any member of a terror organisation could open an office anywhere and start recruiting people and the police would not be able to do anything.
The government said the authorities couldn’t wait for each individual member to commit a criminal act and it was liable to take action against a person as by being a member of a banned organisation, he/she subscribed to the ideology of that group which believed in violence.
On Monday, the solicitor-general told the court the ruling was detrimental to the government’s interests as no action could be taken against a member of a terror organisation. If this judgment stood, there was the possibility of terror being spread by such groups. The court should re-examine the entire issue without disturbing the acquittal of Arup Bhuyan. The bench posted the matter for regular hearings on days other than Mondays and Fridays.