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Punjab & Haryana HC Issues Guidelines to Prevent Misuse of UAPA

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Published on: December 06, 2023 at 17:52 IST

In response to the stringent bail provisions outlined in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Punjab & Haryana High Court has taken a proactive stance by issuing directives to the Punjab Police to prevent the misuse of the Act.

The court, presided over by a division bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Justice Sudeepti Sharma, expressed concern over the “non-application” of mind by the police when adding UAPA offences to FIRs.

The court’s intervention occurred during the consideration of a bail application related to an attempted murder case, where the Investigating Officer (IO) added UAPA to the FIR. Justices Thakur and Sharma emphasized the need to curb the indiscriminate application of the Act and issued specific guidelines to address the matter.

The key directives include:

  1. The Police Commissioner must monitor investigations related to the addition of UAPA offences on a day-to-day basis, ensuring a thorough examination of the collected evidence against the prospective UAPA accused.
  2. Rigorous scrutiny and daily monitoring of the investigation should lead to a careful “application of mind” to determine the necessity of including UAPA offences based on the incriminating material.
  3. In case of any dereliction of duty by the police, the Director General of Police, Punjab, is tasked with taking appropriate action against the responsible officer in accordance with the law.

The court issued these guidelines while hearing a bail application for individuals accused in an attempted murder case, where UAPA offences were added later in Ludhiana, Punjab, in 2022. The accused were alleged to have engaged in a fight, resulting in firearm injuries to the complainant and his relatives.

The court observed that while the IO had initially included Section 13 of UAPA in the FIR, it was later deleted in the charge sheet filed before the trial court. The court criticized this as a “complete non-application of mind” and questioned the motives behind such actions, emphasizing that UAPA should not be used as a tool for harassment.

Despite the state arguing against bail by labeling the accused as habitual offenders, the court highlighted the importance of careful consideration when dealing with UAPA and granted bail, stating that the accused’s criminal history does not preclude the court from granting regular bail.

Upon disposing of the plea, the court directed the immediate transmission of the order to the Director General of Police, Punjab, ensuring strict compliance with the issued guidelines.

Case Title: Pramodh v. State of Punjab