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Govt to appeal against HC observation on Maoists

Govt to appeal against HC observation on Maoists

Kochi: The UDF government has decided to file an appeal against an observation of the High Court that a mere membership of the Maoist organizations does not make a person criminal unless he or she resorts to treason or unlawful activities.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala on Saturday directed the Home Secretary to study the matter and submit a report.

The High Court had on Friday said being a Maoist was "no crime" and police could not detain a person "merely because he is a Maoist".

"Being a Maoist is no crime, though the political ideology of Maoists would not synchronise with our constitutional polity. It is a basic human right to think in terms of human aspirations," it said.

“... if the individual or organisation abhors and resorts to physical violence, a law agency can prevent or take action against individuals or organisations," Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque said in his judgment in a case relating to the arrest of Syam Balakrishnan on the suspicion of being a Maoist.

The court added: "Police cannot detain a person merely because he is a Maoist, unless police form a reasonable opinion that his activities are unlawful."

Disposing of the case, the court directed the government to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation to Balakrishnan within two months. It also asked the state to pay the litigation cost of Rs 10,000.

The judge, however, declined the petitioner's prayer to initiate departmental action against the police officers.

The court said the police had violated Balakrishnan's liberty by arresting him merely on suspicion and without satisfying that he was involved in any cognisable offence punishable under the law.

Dismissing the police version, the court also said that the general diary and the search at the petitioner's house indicated he was taken into custody merely on suspicion.

"The state stridently defended the police action as part of its duty to combat Maoists. The liberty of the individual, however small or high, has to be protected. The police has to display sensitiveness and appeal to the intelligence while exercising the powers bestowed on them," the judge said.

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