Muslim organizations come forward to praise and thank the Supreme Court

Real News International (RNI), New Delhi:

Some Muslim organizations have come forward to laud and praise the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for acquitting 11 persons who were languishing in prison for 18 years after being arrested on the charges of terrorism by the Gujarat police. In a landmark judgment on the trial, Bench of Justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad also directed the police department that an atmosphere of insecurity should not develop among the members of the minority community merely because they belong to a particular section of the society. It directed the Gujarat Police not to brand innocent persons belonging to minority community as terrorist and put them behind bars simply because they belong to a minority community, thereby implying that the Hon’ble Court has grounds for suspicion that such misdeeds were being propagated. The Hon’ble bence said: “The SP and IGP and all others entrusted with the task of operating the law must not do anything that allows its misuse and abuse and ensure that no innocent person has the feeling of sufferance only because ‘My name is Khan but I am not a terrorist’.”

The 11 persons were arrested by the Gujarat Police in June 1994 for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to attack the Lord Jaganath Yatra in Ahmadabad, and, subsequently, convicted by Gujarat’s courts. The Supreme Court, however, quashed the conviction on the ground that the state had not followed the legal requirements of TADA.

The court hailed the role of police in fighting terrorism but said the safeguards in law should be scrupulously followed to ensure the liberty of a person is jeopardized.

“We appreciate the anxiety of police officers entrusted with the task of preventing terrorism and the difficulty faced by them. Terrorism is a crime far serious in nature, more graver in impact and highly dangerous in consequence. It can put the nation in shock, create fear and panic and disrupt communal peace and harmony,” the court said.

In a letter written to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Mr. Aziz Zaidi President All India Haj and Umra Tour Operator Association thanked the Hon’ble Court and the esteemed judges for giving this landmark judgment which greatly enhanced trust that the community has over impartial role of the judiciary. Mr. Zaidi said: “We are highly thankful to the Hon’ble Court and the esteemed judges, in particular Justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad, whose remarkable judgment not only provided some justice to the families of innocent people who had to suffer on all accounts, including financially besides bearing the stigma of being branded terrorists for 18 long years. Moreover, this judgment has proven once again that every citizen of India, irrespective of religion, caste and creed can look forward towards the apex court with the hope of getting impartial justice. We also wish to bring to your notice that keeping in view of the heavy losses that such accused have to undergo, some kind of compensation for the wrongly accused and punishment for those who frame such false cases should be incorporated.”

The letter also praised the Hon’ble Court for extending the benefits of the judgments to other convicts who had not been able to come in appeal before it. The 11 accused had appealed against an anti-terror court judgment, which had convinced them on terror charges and had sentences them to five years in jail each under the now-repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and various other provisions of the IPC. It also dismissed the cross appeals filed by the State seeking enhancement of the punishments to the convicts.

The letter also requested the Hon’ble Court to take cognizance of other similar cases elsewhere. “Further, we request the Hon’ble Court to take cognizance of scores of other similar cases where innocent people belonging to a particular community are being targeted. In particular, we wish to draw your attention towards attempt to pick up the 15-year old nephew of another accused, Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, by the Special Cell of Delhi Police, over as mundane charges as recovery of a lost mobile phone. We fail to understand since when the Special Cell has started recovering lost mobile phones.”

In the end, it was said: “We reiterate once again our overwhelming gratitude to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and in particular the aforementioned two Hon’ble Justices for this landmark judgment which will go a long way in removing some feeling of insecurity that has crept in their (Muslim’s) minds due to certain recent happenings”.

As regards to the recent verdict, the apex court had quashed their conviction on the ground that the state did not follow the mandatory requirement of Section 20-A (1) of TADA which stipulated prior permission from the District Superintendent of Police before registration of the FIR.

“Invocation of TADA without following the safeguards resulting into acquittal gives an opportunity to many and also to the enemies of the country to propagate that it has been misused and abused,” Justice Prasad writing the judgment said.

The apex court also appreciated the police anxiety to fight terrorism and prevent loss of human lives, but said the safeguards in law should be scrupulously followed to ensure no individual liberty is jeopardized.

“We appreciate the anxiety of the police officers entrusted with the task of preventing terrorism and the difficulty faced by them.

“Terrorism is a crime far serious in nature, more graver in impact and highly dangerous in consequence. It can put the nation in shock, create fear and panic and disrupt communal peace and harmony,” the bench said.

It said the task becomes more difficult when it is done by organized group with outside support. Had the investigating agency not succeeded in seizing the arms and explosives, the destruction would have been enormous.

“However, while resorting to TADA, the safeguards provided therein must scrupulously be followed. In the country of Mahatma, means are more important than the end.”

“The facts of the case might induce mournful reflection how an attempt by the investigating agency charged with the duty of preventing terrorism and securing conviction has been frustrated by what is popularly called a technical error.

“We emphasize and deem it necessary to repeat that the gravity of the evil to the community from terrorism can never furnish an adequate reason for invading the personal liberty, except in accordance with the procedure established by the Constitution and the law,” the bench said.

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