Seeing certain videos and speeches does not establish a man as a terrorist

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench comprising of A.M. Shaffique and P. Somarajan, JJ., decided a criminal appeal filed against the Order of the Special Court (NIA cases) denying bail to the appellant (Accused No. 1), wherein the Court set aside the impugned Order and granted bail to the appellant.

The accused was alleged to indulge in terrorist activities. The wife of the appellant, who was living with him in Saudi Arabia, alleged that she was forced to convert her religion from Hinduism to Islam, and now the appellant was making attempts to take her to Syria to join ISIS terrorist organization. She approached the Court to investigate in the matter. The investigation was launched and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had recovered laptops from the appellant which contained certain literature regarding Jihad movement, speeches of one Zakhir Naik, and videos of the Syria war, etc. The appellant submitted that there was no evidence to establish his link with any terrorist organization; he was unnecessarily detained in prison. He prayed for grant of bail.

The High Court perused the record and held that as the matter stood then, appellant’s link with any terrorist organization was not established. The Court held that simply because the appellant had seen the matter as mentioned hereinabove, it is not by itself a reason to implicate him as a terrorist, unless there is other evidence to establish the same. The Court further observed, “Many of such videos, speeches, etc. are in public domain. Merely for the reason that one sees such matters, it may not be possible for any person to establish that the accused is involved in terrorism.” In absence of any other material, the Court held that it was a fit case to exercise jurisdiction to grant bail. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was enlarged on bail subject to the conditions imposed. [Muhammed Riyas D.V.P. v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 1722, decided on 12-04-2018]

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