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Mere allegation of causing civil disturbance would not amount to offence under UAPA- Gauhati HC

The Gauhati High Court, while dismissing a plea filed by State against an order of Special NIA Court, held that in order to attract the provisions of Unlawful Assemblies (Prevention) Act, 1967, the allegation should be of a “terrorist act” which had been committed with a view to threaten the sovereignty, integrity and security of India.

The bench had dismissed a plea challenging the order which granted bail to an activist, Akhil Gogoi, who had been arrested in a case of rioting.

The bench placed reliance on the apex court’s verdict in the case of State through Superintendent of Police, CBI/SIT v Nalini & Ors. (1999).

The bench clarified that acts without the element of intention of causing terrorist acts and which merely result in civil disturbances would not constitute “unlawful activity” mentioned under Section 2(1)(o) of the UAPA Act.

The bench stated that provocative speeches can also be considered as unlawful activity under the act, but in order to constitute an offence under the Act of 1967, the said speech should be delivered with an intention to cause death or injury of person or persons, or cause loss or destruction of property.

The bench also stated that all the above stated acts should be aimed at affecting or disturbing the unity, integrity, sovereignty of the nation.

In the instant case, activist Akhil Gogoi was alleged to have led a crowd of six thousand people which caused economic blockade and pelting of stones due to which informant was grievously injured. The plea also alleged that the crowd attempted to cause murder of police personnel who were on duty.

The Special NIA court, which granted bail to Akhil Gogoi, noted that his speech was aggressive but did not incite violence. Moreover, the court noted that the materials seized could not be prima facie said to be used for a terrorist act.

The High Court, thus upheld the bail order and dismissed the plea of petitioner.

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