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SC response in State Govt.’s Plea against HC orders to quash UAPA charges

3 min read

Priya Gour

Published on: 16 August, 2022 at 20:25 IST

The Supreme Court recently sought a response while hearing a plea moved by the Kerala government against a High Court judgement quashing the offences of UAPA against a Maoist leader. A Bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna issued a five-week returnable notice in the matter concerned.

About The Case: State of Kerala vs. Roopesh

Roopesh, a Communist Party of India-moth leader, was charged under the UAPA. However, the charges imposed on him under UAPA and IPC 124A( sedition) were quashed by the Kerala High Court in March 2022.

It was the result of a revision petition moved by the accused( charged under Sections 143, 147, 148, 124A read with 149 of the IPC and Sections 20 & 38 of the UAPA). He was alleged to be a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a proscribed organisation under the UAPA.

The petitioner initially approached the Special Court, seeking discharge after the deadline of 6 months from the issuance of the sanction order, which was rejected. Lately, he approached the High Court with the petition.

The reason mentioned by the High Court to quash the charges was a delay on the part of the State Government to issue sanction under Section 45 of the UAPA. The concerned section mandates previous sanction by the appropriate government for the Court to take cognisance of the offence under UAPA.

A division bench of the High Court mentioned that the state did not comply with the compulsory deadline of six months under the said section.

The apex court bench also clarified that in offences under section 124A IPC, if the cognizance is found to be invalid by the special court itself, no trial can be held by the same court for an IPC offence either. The quashing of the charges against the Maoist leader was then challenged before the apex court by the Kerala government. The plea requested a stay of the High Court’s order.

While the petitioner submitted before the High Court that the time for sanctioning stipulated under UAPA is a mandate, which was defended by the State government, saying that only sanction is mandatory. Therefore, a delay in the sanction would not be void and vitiate the case against him.

It was submitted before the apex court that such action would defeat the very purpose of UAPA. The said charges were imposed after due satisfaction of the authorities. It was submitted by counsel, Harshad V. Hameed:

Cognizance has been taken against the offences, not against the offender, and the sanction accorded against the offender is not against the offences.” Any irregularity or error in passing the sanction order will not affect the offences and the entire criminal proceedings. Acclaimed persons are involved in serious crimes, and if accused persons are allowed to evade prosecution on the ground of technicality, there is no assurance that they will not repeat such crimes. “

Further, the delay in granting sanction was caused by the absence of any guarantee from the accused to not indulge in similar offences in the future, as mentioned by the Home Secretary.

The government also contended that the charges under 124A IPC would not be affected after the removal of UAPA charges.

Thereby, the apex court has seeked a response from the Maoist leader within five weeks.