Centre to challenge SC order on members of banned groups

The Centre has decided to challenge a Supreme Court order that members of banned groups cannot be treated as criminals till they indulge in violence, saying police cannot wait for them to carry out terror acts.

Last Updated: Feb 07, 2011, 21:39 PM IST

New Delhi: The Centre has decided to
challenge a Supreme Court order that members of banned groups
cannot be treated as criminals till they indulge in violence,
saying police cannot wait for them to carry out terror acts.

Sources said the Central government would soon move a
larger bench of the apex court to challenge the order of the
two-judge bench which recently had said that mere membership
of a banned group will not make a person a criminal unless he
resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates
public disorder by violence or incitement to violence.
The government`s view is that authorities cannot wait
for each individual member to commit any criminal act and it
is liable to take action against him since being a member of a
banned organisation, he subscribes to the ideology of that
group which believes in violence.

"We will ask for a review of the Supreme Court order
as it flies out of the common logic. Otherwise some members of
Al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba would open offices in India saying
that they would not indulge in violent acts," a source said,
adding freedom of expression is one issue but joining an
organisation which indulge in violence is a complete different
matter.

Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra`s last
Friday ruling was part of a judgement acquitting Arup Bhuyan,
convicted by a Guwahati court under the now lapsed anti-terror
law Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

Bhuyan was a suspected member of the outlawed ULFA
which figures at the top of the home ministry`s list of banned
organisations.
"We hope that a larger bench of the honourable Supreme
Court will review the case," the source said.

The trial court had convicted Bhuyan based on his
confession to police, admissible as evidence under TADA.
Bhuyan had appealed in Supreme Court.

Allowing his petition, the court said his conviction
was based on "a very weak kind of evidence" and could not be
sustained in the absence of corroborative material.

On the confessions, Justices Katju and Misra expressed
strong views.

"As is well known, the widespread and rampant practice
in the police in India is to use third-degree methods for
extracting confessions from the alleged accused. Hence, the
courts have to be cautious in accepting confessions made to
the police by the alleged accused," the Bench said.

PTI