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Kerala terror recruitment: HC upholds life term for 10 convicts, awards additional three life terms

The court acquitted three people -- Muhammed Faizal, Muhammed Navas and Ummer Farook -- who were among the 13 convicted by the trial court in 2013.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: May 10, 2022 12:20:45 am
The NIA moved the high court saying that the accused were convicted only under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and wanted them punished under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) too.

UPHOLDING THE life term awarded by a NIA court to 10 accused in a case pertaining to recruitment of youths from Kerala for terror training in Kashmir, Kerala High Court on Monday imposed three additional life imprisonments on the accused.

The 10 convicts include suspected Lashar-e-Toiba militant Tadiyantavide Nazir, a native of Kannur. The High Court acquitted three persons who had been convicted by the NIA court in 2013.

The bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and C Jayachandran gave the verdict on a bunch of petitions moved by the NIA and the convicts.

The case first surfaced in 2008 after four men from Kerala were shot dead by security forces in an encounter in Kupwara. A total of 24 people, including the four who were killed and two who are absconding, were accused in the case.

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In 2013, the NIA Special Court in Kochi sentenced Nazir and 12 others under various sections of the UAPA, while acquitting five others for want of evidence.

The NIA later moved the High Court, saying the accused should be punished under relevant sections of the IPC as well. While asserting the legality of the conviction under the UAPA, it pleaded for reversing the trial court’s order to the extent of acquittal in some of the offences under the IPC. “When the other offences stand established, there is no perceivable reason why they were acquitted under the offences charged of criminal conspiracy, collection of arms with the intention of waging war against India, sedition, forgery of ID cards and use of such forged documents for availing services,’’ the NIA said in its plea.

The High Court on Monday imposed three additional life imprisonments on the 10 accused under Sections 120-b (conspiracy), 122 (collecting arms with intention of waging war against the government) and 124-A (sedition) of the IPC.

Observing that the sentence is one for life, the bench said the life terms would run concurrently.

While Nazir and nine others were sentenced to life, the court acquitted Muhammed Faizal, Muhammed Navas and Ummer Farook.

The court said it has been established that a conspiracy was hatched to recruit men for terrorist activities, train them in arms and ammunition and wage war with India, which probably, fizzled out with four out of the five recruits being shot dead in an encounter. It would have resulted in far-reaching consequences for the nation, particularly for Kerala, “but for the sudden death of four of such recruits in encounters” in Kashmir, the court said.

It said the testimonies, documents produced, especially the call detail records (CDRs), and extracts from the digital devices seized from the accused together provide the reasonable belief required to use the evidence against the accused. “There is a clear unbroken chain of circumstances connecting the accused, with the plot hatched of recruitment to perpetrate terrorist activities; the overt acts of waging war against the nation having been proved by the death of the four recruits,” it said.

“The incriminating circumstances of the CDRs when put to the accused, they had no explanation, which assumes relevance under Section 106 of the Evidence Act. We find no reason to upset the findings of the trial court,” said the division bench.

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