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Mahato slipping out of UAPA muddle, top cops go in a huddle

Posted by Admin on October 9, 2009

The confusion over application of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has led a virtual standoff between the state’s investigating agencies and a section of the judiciary.

Yesterday, the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) at Jhargram, while extending the police custody of the arrested PCAPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato by three days, said he could not extend it by 18 days as asked by the police since the evidence produced by them was inadequate and did not justify the application of the UAPA.

The judge, Vishal Mangrathi, had earlier said he was not convinced about the application of the UAPA on Mahato since the state government was yet to issue a notification banning the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), which the police say is a frontal organisation of the banned CPI (Maoist).

On the other hand, state DGP Bhupinder Singh today said there is no need to issue any notice declaring imposition of the UAPA since it was a Central Act.

The police brass is clearly divided. “No case against Mahato, Sukhshnti Baskey (treasurer of the PCAPA) and the others booked under the UAPA will stand the scrutiny of the higher court as there are serious procedural lapses over the application of the Central Act on the part of state government. This is quite evident after the CID was not granted 18 days of Mahato’s custody,” said a senior CID official.

Meanwhile, the police and CID brass today met Balai Roy, the advocate general of the state, to seek legal help.

“We have pressed charges against Mahato under Section 35 of the UAPA that deals with terrorist organisations. Moreover, the Central Act mentions that all the frontal organisations of the CPI (Maoist) should be banned. We have collected evidence against the PCAPA and about its links with the Maoists. So, there was no need for issuing notification about it,” said Neeraj N Pandey, IG, CID.

Ashok Bakshi, the public prosecutor, said: “We have no clue why the magistrate was not convinced and our plea was not granted. We provided all evidence. We will try to file stronger evidence in the next hearing.”

There are four cases against Mahato under the IPC. “We could have slapped more cases against Mahato under the IPC and CrPC. But in such cases, the maximum period of remand is 14 days. We needed more, so we filed cases under the UAPA that allows for 30 days of custody,” said a CID official.

Significantly, in other Naxal-hit states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, police action under the UAPA follows a prior notification. “We have made a list of all the frontal organisations of the CPI (Maoist) and the state government has banned all the organisations by issuing notification. The state needs to renew the notification every year. Until and unless the notification is issued through official gazette and newspapers, no case under the UAPA will stand in the court. Apart from the UAPA, we also slap charges under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 also,” said Pavan Dev, a DIG engaged in anti-Naxal operations in that state.

Meanwhile, Sukh Shanti Bsakey, the treasurer of the PCAPA, was produced in Jhargram court today. The CID got eight days of his custody, though they had requested for 21 days IE

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