Delhi HC says mere possession of Jihadi materials is not an offencetext_fields
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court ruled that mere possession of Jihadi literature or philosophy cannot be taken into account to charge a person as having committed an offence. The court was hearing a UAPA case of 11 people against whom the NIA charged a case of aligning themselves with the banned terrorist organisation ISIS.
Though the court found unfathomable that the mere possession of Jihadi materials is amounting to an offence, it framed charges against all the accused while discharging one from all charges.
The NIA case is that the accused were in the act of possessing materials from various ISIS propaganda channels on different secured as well as unsecured social media applications and propagating the violent Jihadi ideology of ISIS. Apart from that, the NIA had also presented a transaction of Rs 60,000 between the accused as terror funding.
Principal District and Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma, in his order passed on October 31, said, "To hold that mere possession of Jihadi literature having a particular religious' philosophy would amount to an offence, though such literature is not expressly or specifically banned under any provision of law, is not fathomable in law unless and until there is material about the execution of such philosophy so as to do terrorist acts."
The court also said that charges of this nature amount to curtailing the freedoms and rights guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution conferred on the individuals. Even if the accused were impressed by the said philosophy and ideology, it could not attract the same penal liability which is bound to the members of the said organisation, said the court.
However, the court found them worthy of being charged for their sympathizing with the ISIS ideology and calling themselves the lone wolves intending to bring Caliphate rule to Jammu and Kashmir.
Rejecting the NIA charges against the accused, the court said that there is nothing to discern from the gathered materials that the accused ever "procured arms or ammunition or explosive substances or attempted to acquire the same, or for that planned to commit any terrorist act so as to cause large scale disturbances or fear in the mind of the general public."
"There is no material that any of the accused individually or for that matter with in association with one or the other planned to carry out any terrorist act or act preparatory to any terrorist act," it said.
The Delhi High Court charged Mushab Anwar, Rhees Rasheed, Mundadiguttu Sadanananda, Marla Deepthi, Mohd Waqar Lone, Mizha Siddeeque, Shifa Haris, Obaid Hamid Matta, and Ammar Abdul Rahiman under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)s read with Sections 2 (o), 13, 38 and 39 of the UAPA for being sympathisers of the terror group.
The court discharged one accused, Muzamil Hassan Bhat, of all charges.
"To sum up, the accused persons before this Court are more or less young persons and their religious & ideological bent of mind is certainly disdainful, despicable and contrary to the ideals of the Constitution of India. However, since none of the accused is said to have indulged in any acts of violence or of being a party to any conspiracy for committing any particular terrorist act, they cannot be held prima facie to have committed the offences in question."