A Delhi court granted bail to eight men accused of being members of the banned outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) after police failed to show how they were involved in unlawful activities when they were, in fact, inside Tihar jail. The men have been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
In the aftermath of the ban, police arrested the accused after they received information that they had allegedly raised PFI zindabad slogans. Police claimed to have recovered six PFI flags from the accused.
Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Khanagwal said the accused were arrested on September 27, and the PFI was banned on September 28, with notification coming into effect on September 29.
The judge also took note of the fact that the accused were released from Tihar jail on October 2 and 4, and were arrested again during the early hours.
“The investigating officer has not been able to show sufficient incriminating material against the accused collected during the investigation that as to when accused were in custody from 27.09.2022 and remained in Tihar Jail till 4.10.2022 or 3.10.2022, then how the accused persons have carried out such activities which are aimed at advocating, abetting or inciting/assisting any unlawful activity of unlawful organisation (sic),” the court said.
The IO submitted that the bank details of PFI have been recovered and investigation is going on to establish the link of the accused with the funding.
The court, however, said the “material collected during the investigation is silent as to the role of accused persons in financial activities or in advocating the activities of unlawful organisation after its ban…”.
After perusing call record details of the accused, it noted that “even from that, nothing could be shown to prove that the accused persons were involved in unlawful activity from the date of declaring PFI as unlawful organisation till their arrest in the present case”.
Advocate Mujeeb Rehman, who appeared for some of the accused, argued that they were unlawfully picked up and detained by police.
The defence counsel submitted that “they were picked up from the jail itself and were not apprehended from the place as alleged against them”, and that the activities alleged against them were carried out prior to the ban on the outfit.
The defence counsel for the accused played a CCTV footage in court to argue that the accused can be seen on October 2 and 4 “being picked up forcibly by the police officials” and later on, following release from judicial custody, they “were picked up by the police officials from the exit gate of the jail itself and were taken to the police station for their false implication”.
However, the court said that it would not comment on this piece of evidence since the people and the registration numbers of the vehicles appearing in the CCTV footage were not clear.