SC sets aside HC order discharging accused of sedition, UAPA offences


The Supreme Court has set aside a Kerala High Court order discharging an accused, allegedly having Maoist links, for offences under the provisions of the anti-terror law and sedition.

The accused was arrested in December 2015.

A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna said: “All these appeals succeed and the common impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court passed in discharging the accused is hereby quashed and set aside and the matters are remanded to the High Court to decide the Revision Petition Nos 732 of 2019 to 734 of 2019 afresh by the Division Bench in accordance with law and on merits.”

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the Kerala government, relying upon Section 21 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, submitted that the order passed by the single judge bench of the high court is unsustainable.

The bench noted: “It is submitted that in view of Section 21(1) of the NIA Act, the revision application against the order passed by the Special Court refusing to discharge the accused ought to have been heard by the Division Bench as mandated under sub-section (2) of Section 21 of the NIA Act.”

Singh urged the top court to allow the appeals and remand the matter to the high court to decide the same revision petitions, filed by accused Roopesh, by a division bench of the high court. The high court had noted that the accused was involved in three cases.

The top court, allowing the state government’s appeals, said: “In the present case, admittedly, the impugned judgment and order has been passed by the learned Single Judge which can be said to be absolutely contrary to the statutory provision, namely, Section 21(1) and 21(2) of the NIA Act and the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions.”

It added that revision petitions, on remand, should be decided and disposed of by the division bench of the high court at the earliest and preferably, within a period of six months from the date of receipt of the present order.

The top court made it clear that it has not expressed anything on merits in favour of either parties and the common impugned judgment of the high court is set aside solely on the aforesaid ground.

Concluding the order passed on October 29, it said: “It goes without saying that all the contentions/defences, which may be available to the respective parties are kept open to be considered by the division bench of the high court in accordance with law and on its own merits. The appeals are, accordingly, allowed.”

In one of the cases, allegations were levelled that in November 2013, the accused, along with five others alleged members of a banned Maoist organisation, had distributed pamphlets, having seditious content, in a tribal colony.