In the matter of Shoheb Ali @ Sajid Ali vs State of Karnataka Following the stone-pelting incident, 140 people were charged under various sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). According to reports, the mob was incensed when a picture of a saffron flag flying from a mosque’s dome was spreading online. After the bail requests of the 41 accused were denied by a special National Investigation Agency court, thousands of people gathered in front of the police station to throw rocks, causing damage to public property and injuring a few police officers. The 41 accused then went to the High Court. Consequently, it was declared that the accused had committed serious crimes.
The defendant argued that because none of them belonged to any of the 43 organisations that were prohibited under section 35 of the UAPA, they could not be designated members of a terrorist organisation as that term is defined in section 2(m) of the UAPA. Additionally, he argued that Section 16(1)(a) only applied when the act resulted in a death, which had not occurred. He also emphasised that no prima facie case had been established to warrant the use of Section 18 (punishment for conspiracy) of the UAPA.
Justices B Veerappa and Venkatesh Naik’s panel rejected the criminal appeal that the 41 defendants in the attack on the Old Hubballi police station in April 2022 had filed. The Court found that the evidence from the CCTV footage and call detail records clearly showed that the defendants were involved in heinous crimes that disturbed public peace and tranquilly by causing religious strife in society. As a result, it denied the accused’s requests for bail and affirmed the special court order.
Recommendation and Suggestion
The Court advised the State government to establish special courts in Belagavi, Kalaburagi, and Mysuru for the swift trial of cases filed by the NIA in order to safeguard the right to a quick trial.