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SC Allows Kerala To Withdraw UAPA Plea Against Alleged Maoist Leader

The Kerala government had earlier challenged an HC order that had quashed the UAPA charges against Roopesh due to the sanction granted after six months instead of the mandatory seven days.
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court (SC) allowed the Kerala government to withdraw its petition seeking to restore Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2019, (UAPA) charges against alleged Maoist leader Roopesh.

The state had challenged the Kerala High Court’s (HC) March 17 order quashing the charges, slapped under UAPA and Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), against Roopesh in three cases registered at Kuttiadi and Valayam police stations, Kozhikode.

Later, the Kerala government expressed its intention to withdraw the petition. Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for Kerala, according to LiveLaw, submitted before a Bench of Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari: “This is a question of law. The view taken is that there is a judgment of this court. A strict view is to be preferred. Once this becomes a legal position, it will apply to all. We do not wish to pursue this litigation.”

Asking the reason for withdrawing the petition, Justice Shah asked Gupta, “If it’s a question of law, why are you withdrawing?” Gupta replied that the HC’s judgment favouring a “strict interpretation of UAPA appears to be the correct position”.

We [Kerala government] feel this is the correct position regarding UAPA ... Strict view is preferable than an expansive view, and we are of the view that the implementation of judgment ...What has been decided is that strict view is to be preferred in as far as this statute is concerned and this is not aimed at only this person once this becomes the legal position, as far as the state is concerned, it will apply to all persons,” Gupta submitted.

Therefore, it’s the decision based on a legal aspect ... which is why we do not wish to pursue the case further,” Gupta further submitted.

Subsequently, the apex court allowed the withdrawal of the petition but left the questions of law open.

Roopesh, along with members of the banned Maoist organisation, had allegedly distributed pamphlets containing “seditious writings” in tribal colonies in Wayanad district.

Discharging Roopesh, an HC Bench comprising Justices K Vinod Chandran and C Jayachandran had ruled that sanction under the UAPA granted after six months, against the time frame of seven days, from the date of receipt of the recommendation of the authority was not a valid sanction, LiveLaw had reported.

The authority headed by a retired HC Judge had recommended charging the Section against the petition based on the letter of the home department on February 7, 2018, The New Indian Express had reported. However, the sanction of the state government in the first two crimes was on June 6, 2018, and in the third on April 7, 2018, against the specific time of seven days.

Allowing Roopesh’s petition seeking quashing of the cases, the HC Bench had observed: “Amidst the raging controversy as to the retention of offence of sedition in the IPC, which the naysayers categorise as a relic of the colonial past and a symbol of British hegemony and the votaries support in the wake of rising anti-national feelings under the cloak of liberal thought, the government sat over a sanction for six months, violating the time frame prescribed in the rules.”

Terming the sanction invalid, the HC further observed: “We find the sanction order of the UAPA to be not brought out in time, as statutorily mandated, and bereft of any application of mind—both vitiating the cognisance was taken by the Special Court.”

Later, the Kerala government submitted a petition before the SC arguing that the stipulation of time under Rules 3 and 4 of UAPA (Recommendation of Sanction Rules), 2008, is only directory in nature.

Since cognisance was taken by the magistrate upon the police report, the state government further argued, therefore Section 460(e) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was squarely applicable and irregularity in proceedings would not vitiate the entire proceedings.

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