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Supreme Court rejects plea of Bengaluru riots accused held under UAPA

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The Supreme Court has refused the petition of a 68-year-old retired Govt engineer Mohammed Kaleem Ahmed, who was arrested among 17 other leaders and activists of the Social Democratic Party of India and Popular Front of India by the National Investigation Agency, in connection with the Bengaluru Riots. 

The two-Judge Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Vikram Nath refused to grant any relief to the accused, saying that the matter was pending for trial and it would not be possible for it to grant bail, looking at the gravity of offence committed by the appellants and charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA) 1967. 

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra appeared on behalf of Ahmad. He submitted that the appellant was a 68-year-old retired engineer. The issue is where the riots took place. There is an FIR registered by the state police. My name came up when the NIA came in play. I have now spent 14 months in custody, of these months, the charge sheet is still pending. There are 154 witnesses. There is a background to this petition. There is a political cat fight, one Mr Pasha posed a comment against BJP MLA. Naveen posed certain comments on social media and the whole conspiracy starts from there. 

The Bench replied, “We have gone through this matter Mr Luthra. The High Court has passed the detailed order. UAPA imposed and apart from it, there are Sections 352, 323, 333 IPC. 

“We just can’t have the society like this,” said the Supreme Court. 

Luthra said, “I am a retired Govt officer my lord. I was there because I have a pharmaceutical shop there. There are two transactions, which are lumped together. I am in FIR 141, and I am not in 152. FIR mentions Kaleem Pasha, not me. There is no dispute in that. 

Bench said, “Mr Luthra, I didn’t even point out Section 307 IPC, I point out to you where is the problem lies. We can’t have a society like this… This is apart from all other there is UAPA, Damages to property…etc…

Luthra- I would like to apprise the bench with the nature of offences in this case. Further investigation is still pending, Milord. I am showing the charge sheet of 5th of February 2021. 120B, 123, 143, 353, 427, 34 and 149 IPC. Section 2 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 & UAPA. 

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  • No 307IPC and no other serious offences as fallen from milord. 
  • Now please see the role attributed to this gentleman. SDPI is the political party and he was associated with it. Reading from the charge sheet. 
  • There are total of 13 FIRs. Milord will not that there was a Innova Car which will play a important part in the Story NIA. 
  • I wasn’t named in any of the FIR. The person whose vehicle was burnt nothing attributed to me. 

Bench- How are you connected with the person? 

Luthra- The person who named me first time in the burning of the Vehicle is the policeman from the area, who knows me previously. I wasn’t named earlier in the FIR lodged on the basis of complaint by the brother of the person whose vehicle was burnt. They could have made me accused in the first FIR. 

Bench- Ultimately, where all these arguments take us there? Point is the overall scenario which is unfolding in this present FIR, how can bail be granted under UAPA? 

Luthra- they have charged me for rioting under IPC. Then they say burning one vehicle they framed me under the UAPA. Is it a case of UAPA, or under the IPC? Is it a case of law and order or violation of public order? The investigation is completed against me. It’s only pending against others…Kartar Singh Case squarely covered my case. It’s not a UAPA Case. He has a shop in the place of incident. All the Police statements in first FIR doesn’t named me. 

Bench- We have taken note of your submission. Before we say anything, we want to hear other party as-well. 

Adv Gaurav Agarwal appearing for 5 other appellants against the order of Karnataka High Court. Points out the investigation is completed against the accused and they are languishing in jail for the last 16 Months. UAPA invoked because allegation against my clients that they have burnt the bike. 

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The Supreme Court after hearing the arguments held that,

“At this juncture, we are not inclined to grant any relief. Looking to the overall scenario the bail cannot be granted. The same is dismissed.” 

The matter was filed by the accused persons against the order of the Karnataka High Court which had dismissed their plea granting any relief in the FIR lodged against them under various sections of the IPC, UAPA and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984. The appeal before the high court was against the cancellation of bail by the sessions court. The prosecution case in crux was that on the night of 11th August, 2020, a mob resorted to arson and created a horrifying and terror situation in the area of DG Hlli and KG Halli police station limits, Karnataka, after one Mr Naveen P, nephew of Sri R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, Indian National Congress MLA from Pulakeshinagar had allegedly posted a comment insulting prophet Mohammad on his facebook account and the said mob was demanding his arrest. Further the prosecution had alleged that the said mob invited for registration of a case against Sri P Naveen and others and despite registration of same in NCR 384/2020, mob did not dispensed and in spite of police resorting to lathi charge, the mob became very aggressive and started attacking the police and public property on large scale. It was also the case of the prosecution was that accused person were found shouting slogans and also attacking the police station and police personnel who were on duty. The same resulted in violence in Kadugondanahalli (K.G. Halli) and Devarajeevanahalli (D.J. Halli) police stations and in other places, including Kaval Byrasandra. 

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