New Delhi: The Supreme Court has set aside the objections of the National Investigation Agency and granted bail to two students from Kerala who had been arrested under the UAPA Act. Thwaha Fasal and Allan Shuhaib were arrested by the Kerala Police in November 2019 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act alleging that they were supporting proscribed Maoist groups, which have been declared as terrorist organizations. The NIA took over the case later.
The court set aside the High Court's judgment of January 2021 which denied Fasal bail and dismissed the state appeal against Shuhaib's bail, which had been granted earlier owing to his age and mental state.
Fasal, a journalist student and Shuhaib, a law student were found in possession of material with alleged links to Maoists and accused of being Maoist sympathisers. However, a special NIA court took cognizance of the fact that most of the material recovered related to 'burning social issues like preservation of the Western Ghats, protests against police atrocities and discussions on the dissolution of Article 370 and its relation to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Mere possession of materials related to Communism, Maoism or the like was not a crime, the court said.
The Court also particularly noted that the NIA dropped Section 20 of UAPA (which relates to membership of banned organization) from the chargesheet. So, the Court said that even the NIA does not have a case that the accused are members of Maoist organisations. Thus bail was granted to both, but Fasal's was later set aside by the Kerala High Court for which he had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.
Fasal has been directed to be produced before the trial court to complete the bail formalities. The bail will be subject to the conditions in the bail order passed by the Special NIA Court Kochi in September 2020.