Authority has final say in UAPA cases

It has rejected most cases in the State for want of proper evidence

Threatening tribal people and demanding rice and other consumables from them and asking them to join Maoist organisations are some of the offences the Kerala police have found suitable to invoke the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in Kerala during the last one year.

In another instance, the police invoked the Act in a case of attacking an office of the Kerala Forest Department. Almost all the UAPA cases in Kerala were booked in Wayanad.

Prosecution sanction was denied in most cases as they failed to pass the legal muster, said P.S. Gopinathan, a former judge of the Kerala High Court and chairman of the statutory authority formed for considering the cases for prosecution clearance.

Section 45 (2) of the Act mandates that the sanction for prosecution shall be given only after an authority formed for the purpose makes “an independent review of the evidence gathered in the course of investigation and make a recommendation within such time as may be prescribed to the Central government or, as the case may be, the State government.”

In Kerala, the authority rejected permission in almost all cases for want of evidence to qualify the offence as defined in the Act. Sections 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 20 and 21 of the Act specify the offences which attract the provisions of the Act. In almost all the cases, the police tried to invoke the Act by linking the accused to Maoist organisations, Mr. Gopinathan said.

The four-member authority, which has the Special Secretaries of Home and Law and the Inspector General of Police (Internal Security) as its members, independently evaluates the evidence presented by the police under the light of the provisions of the Act and decides.

In most of the cases, the authority turned down the request and directed the police to conduct further probe. It would be after the completion of the investigation and preparation of the final report that the case would be referred to the authority for prosecution sanction. Once denied sanction, the UAPA charges cannot be pursued. However, other offences slapped against the accused may be tried in a court of law, Mr. Gopinathan said.

In the latest case of the Kozhikode police booking two students, Alan Suhaib and Thaha Fazal, Mr. Gopinathan wondered whether possessing the Maoist literature alone would qualify them to be booked under the Act. It appeared that the police have filed a First Information Report against the two by invoking the Act. The police could drop the charges if sufficient evidences are not obtained during further investigation, he said.

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