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Judiciary

SC grants bail to Prof Shoma Sen in Bhima Koregaon case [Read Judgment]

By Jhanak Singh      06 April, 2024 01:58 PM      0 Comments
SC grants bail to Prof Shoma Sen in Bhima Koregaon case [Read Judgment]

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to activist Prof Shoma Sen arrested in 2018 for offences under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, saying there was no evidence that she was a member of the banned terrorist organisation CPI (Maoist).

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Augustine George Masih said the petitioner was 66-year-old, and suffered from various ailments so the court would not apply the rigors of Section 43D (5) of the 1967 Act against her.

After going through the materials, the bench said that charges levelled against her were found as prima facie not true at this stage.

"We do not think she ought to be denied the privilege of being enlarged on bail pending further process subsequent to issue of chargesheets against her in the subject-case as evidence of her involvement in any fund-raising activities for the CPI (Maoist) or her support to the said organisation has not transpired through any reliable evidence before us at this stage," the bench said.

The court said in its prima facie opinion, the allegations of the prosecution that the appellant is a member of a terrorist organisation or that she associates herself or professes to associate herself with a terrorist organization are not true.

"At this stage, she cannot be implicated in the offence under Sections 38 of 1967 Act. Allegations against her only reveal her participation in some meetings and her attempt to encourage women to join the struggle for new democratic revolution. These allegations, prima facie, do not reveal the commission of an offence under Section 18 of the 1967 Act and the prosecution has not been able to corroborate or even raise a hint of corroboration of the allegation that the appellant has funded any terrorist act or has received any money for that purpose," the court said.

The bench pointed out any form of deprival of liberty results in breach of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and must be justified on the ground of being reasonable, following a just and fair procedure and such deprival must be proportionate in the facts of a given case. These would be the overarching principles which the law Courts would have to apply while testing prosecution’s plea of pre-trial detention, both at investigation and post-chargesheet stage, it added.

The court said there is no reasonable ground for believing that the accusations against the appellant for commission of the offences incorporated in Chapter IV and VI of the 1967 Act are prima facie true.

"Taking cognizance of the composite effect of delay in framing charge, period of detention undergone by her, the nature of allegations against her vis-à-vis the materials available before this court at this stage in addition to her age and medical condition, we do not think she ought to be denied the privilege of being enlarged on bail pending further process subsequent to issue of charge sheets against her in the subject-case," the bench said.

The court, however, directed Sen not to leave Maharashtra without permission from the Special Court.

As conditions for bail, the bench also directed her to surrender passport, inform the investigating officer of her address, keep only one mobile phone, keep it active and charged, switch on its GPS location and report to SHO of jurisdictional police station every fortnight.

 

[Read Judgment]



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