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“No doubt that UAPA charges are prima facie true”, Delhi HC refuses relief for E Abubacker, ex-Chief of banned Islamist outfit PFI [Read Judgment]

By Shreya Agarwal      28 May, 2024 09:22 PM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today dismissed a plea by E Abubacker, former Chairman of banned Islamist organization Popular Front of India (PFI), seeking his release in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Importantly, after perusing the chargesheet, witness statements, etc. the division bench of Justices Manoj Jain and Suresh Kumar Kait held that there is "no element of uncertainty in our minds about the fact that the case of the prosecution, with respect to the commission of offences falling under Chapter-IV and Chapter-VI of UAPA, is prima facie true".

Rejecting the argument that not releasing him on medical grounds is violating his fundamental rights, the Court held that, “There is nothing before us which may suggest infringement of his fundamental rights.”

It added that the “Trial Court has already given the requisite directions, which we also feel to be very appropriate”, on his medical condition.

The Court also rejected the argument by Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan for Abubacker, that the NIA “has miserably failed to demonstrate even a single proximity event” connected or emanating from Abubacker’s alleged preparatory act and the ‘ultimate objective’ of spreading terror.

The Court reasoned that PFI’s goal was to establish a Caliphate by the year 2047, and said that “at times, it takes years to achieve any such distant objective.” 

Therefore, “to say that there was no proximity between the alleged preparatory act and the ultimate objective, would not be appropriate as such kinds of activities are unrelenting, perpetual and unceasing."

Towards this end, the Court marked that "The organization had been holding terror camps, recruiting and radicalizing Muslim youths and imparting weapon-training for the purposes of commission of terrorist act across the country and, therefore, it cannot be said that there was no proximity between the two..."

Further, relying on witness statements, the Court concluded that the  objective of the weapon-training being imparted by PFI to young recruits was not with the mere idea of self-defence, but "was with the idea of overthrowing the democratically elected government to replace the Constitution of India with a Caliphate Shariya Law."

Pertinently, Delhi High Court noted that PFI's, "...planning of targeted killing of Hindu leaders and attacking the security forces and establishing a Caliphate by 2047" indicated that PFI's target was "to challenge the "unity and sovereignty of India" and not merely to "overthrow the government."

In light of all this, despite it being urged that Abubacker suffers from a multitude of diseases alongwith old age, the Delhi High Court refused to release him.

Abubacker stated that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, small vessel ischemic disease, hypertension and diabetes, coronary artery disease, has undergone surgery for treatment of a cancer, and has severely affected cognitive ability, and, therefore, requires “round-the-clock monitoring and assistance to carry out his daily activities.”

However, while noting that age is “undoubtedly” “not on his side”, and stating that it “understands” that Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder which gradually affects the nervous system, the Delhi High Court maintained that the “fact remains that adequate directions have already been given by the learned Trial Court in the impugned order and as per jail report, appellant, himself, is not interested in getting admitted in AIIMS, New Delhi.” 

“Needless to emphasize, AIIMS is one of the best and most sought-after medical facilities in the country,” therefore, it held that it was not inclined to interfere with the trial court’s order.

Abubacker was extended all forms of medical support and assistance at AIIMS, on state expense, in the challenged trial court order, which the Delhi High Court took note of, while dismissing his appeal.

Abubacker was arrested by the anti-terror agency during a massive crackdown on the banned organisation PFI in 2022, in simultaneous raids held across India. 

He is lodged in judicial custody currently, which the trial court said would be deemed to continue even during his admission and treatment at AIIMS, which the trial court allowed.

He had approached the High Court after being refused to be released by the trial court.

In 2022, simultaneous arrests were made by the NIA in various states and Union Territories, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry, Delhi and Rajasthan.

PFI and several of its associate organisations were subsequently banned on September 28, 2022 for five years under the anti-terror law, the UAPA.

Cause Title: Abubacker E. v National Investigation Agency

 

[Read Judgment]



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