#India -Raising social issues no crime: Bombay High Court #protest #justice

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   Dhawala Dhengale

Court grants bail saying highlighting society’s flaws doesn’t make one a Maoist

Sunil Baghel, MM

Posted On Tuesday, February 05, 2013 at 04:15:07 AM

Raising issues like “social inequality” is not banned and hence is not punishable, the Bombay High Court observed while granting bail to four alleged Maoists.

“The interest taken by the applicants and their attempts to create social awareness is commendable,” observed Justice Abhay Thipsay while passing the judgment last Thursday. “How can their highlighting wrongs in society and insisting on the need for change be considered evidence of belonging to a terrorist organisation?”

Three accused – Dhawala Dhengale, Mayuri Bhagat and Anuradha Sonule – were allegedly associated with the Kabir Kala Manch, which held street plays on “social inequalities.” The fourth accused, Siddharth Bhosale, is alleged to be an important activist of the Maoists from whom provocative literature was seized.

Taking the State to task, the HC said, “It is surprising that the State should consider these activities as incriminating material. Speaking about corruption, social inequality, etc and seeking a better society is not banned.”

The court observed that national leaders express the same views and that “expression of these views cannot brand a person as a member of Communist Party of India (Maoists).”

The court noted that if the “concerns” are taken to be expressed only by CPI (Maoists), then “it would indicate that these issues are not addressed by anyone else except CPI (Maoists), which would mean that other parties or social organisations are indifferent to these problems”.

The Maharashtra ATS arrested the accused last April for being part of the Golden Corridor Committee, a group allegedly set up by the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). They were granted bail of Rs 30,000 each with sureties of the same amount. The court had granted bail to two other accused last October, while observing that every person influenced by Maoist ideology can’t be treated as a member of the organisation.

ATS had allegedly recovered CDs, pen drives and printed material supposed to be used to spread the committee’s message.

The HC accepted the defence’s argument that most of the books were available in the market – a fact not denied by the State – and that the said literature was not banned under the provisions of the Criminal Procedural Code, and hence reading the literature was not prohibited.

The court observed that the accused can be said to be sympathisers of the Maoists philosophy. However, there was no evidence to show that they were “active members” of the said organisation.

Only one accused, Angela Sontakke – alleged to be the main accused and secretary of Golden Corridor Committee – now remains in custody.

7 responses »

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