The Gauhati High Court upheld the bail given by a special NIA Court to imprisoned activist-turned-politician Akhil Gogoi, stating that someone accused of civil disturbance can’t be charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act unless it qualifies as an act of terror.
Gogoi was granted bail by a special court after he was charged for his anti-CAA speeches on 1st October last year.
A divisional bench comprising Justice Suman Shyam and Justice Mir Alfaz Ali observed, ‘‘The dominant intention of the wrongdoer must be to commit a ‘terrorist act’ coming within the ambit of Section 15(1) of the Act… What, therefore, follows is that unlawful act of any other nature, including acts of arson and violence aimed at creating civil disturbance and law and order problems, which may be punishable under the ordinary law, would not come within the purview of Section 15(1) of the Act of 1976 unless it is committed with the requisite intention,’’
The Bench further stated,
While even spoken words, including provocative speeches, can be construed as unlawful activity under Section 2(1)(0) of the 1967 legislation, ‘‘the same must be done with the intention to cause the death of, or injuries to any person or persons, or to cause loss of or damage to or destruction of any property aimed at disturbing the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of the country,’’
The lower court had issued bail to Gogoi, stating that the charges levelled by the agency could not be defined as a terrorist act committed with the intent of threatening India’s unity, integrity, and sovereignty, or instilling fear among the citizens.
Police took Gogoi into protective detention on December 12, 2019, as protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill erupted throughout the state, culminating in violence in many locations. The matter was handed over to the National Investigating Agency (NIA). Since then, he has been held in judicial custody.