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Journalist held in Hathras case: Allahabad High Court asks for CJM order in habeas corpus petition

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Allahabad High Court today, while issuing notice, asked for the order passed by the CJM in a Habeas Corpus Petition filed by three Popular Front of India (PFI) members, who were arrested under sections 153-A, 124-A, 295-A of IPC, sections 17 and 18 of UAPA and Section 65, 72 and 75 of the IT Act, while they were going to Hathras to meet the family of the deceased gang-rape victim.

The division bench of Justices Pritinker Diwaker and PK Srivastava issued notices to the central government, the State of Uttar Pradesh, Superintendent of Jail (District Jail, Mathura), and Prabal Pratap Singh (Sub-Inspector, PS Maant, Mathura – the Informant/ Complainant).

The plea has been moved by Shakhavat Kha (maternal uncle and father-in-law of Atik Ur Rehman) through advocates Shashwat Anand and Sarveshwari Prasad. Arguments were led by Senior Advocate SFA Naqvi.

It is argued that any offense under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) is a Scheduled Offence under the National Investigation Act, 2008 and Section 13(1) of the said Act categorically lays down that every Scheduled Offence under the 2008 Act, shall exclusively be tried by the special court.

Further, it is contended that Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Mathura has no jurisdiction either to try the matter or remand the petitioners to Police judicial custody, in the light of the judgment of the Supreme Court dated October 12, 2020 (Bikramjit Singh vs. State of Punjab).

It is also stated that the accused-petitioners, being concerned social activists, were going to meet the bereaved family and offer them consolation. Also, Alam, being a taxi/ cab driver was ferrying them to the said destination. However, they were detained on October 5, in Mathura, while they were on their way.

The plea submits that an FIR dated October 7, was lodged against them as an afterthought, apparently after the police authorities realized that the petitioner’s arrest and detention is unlawful. They were produced in the court of CJM, Mathura, on the said date in the afternoon and were remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.

It is alleged: “In illegal exercise of powers by the executive magistrate, totally beyond the applicable purview and domain of Ss. 107/116/151 and S. 167 CrPC,” the Petitioners were sent to jail in judicial custody of 14 days.

It is, therefore, urged that a writ in the nature of Habeas Corpus be issued, quashing the remand order passed by CJM, Mathura. It is also pleaded that the FIR against the accused-petitioners be quashed.

An interim relief is also sought for enlarging the petitioners on bail during the pendency of the instant proceedings. Petitioners have also sought permission to interact with their lawyers, and family members, through regular interviews via video conferencing and have urged that the District Judge, Mathura, be directed to visit the Mathura District Jail, to inquire into the Human Rights Violations in the jail premises, if any, and submit a report before the high court. 

Read Also: Madras High Court orders blocking of all objectionable social media posts by Justice (Retd) Karnan

The CJM, Mathura Anju Rajput had on October 16 dismissed an application filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) to meet Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan, presently lodged at Mathura jail.

The court has listed the matter concerning the release of Atik Ur Rehman, a student; Alam, a cab driver and Masud, an activist, for hearing on December 14, 2020.

-India Legal Bureau

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