New Delhi, Feb 4 (PTI) Mere membership of a bannedorganisation does not make a person criminal unless he or sheresorts or incites people to violence, the Supreme Court hasruled.
The ruling assumes significance in the wake of lifeimprisonment imposed on noted civil liberties activist leaderand paediatricion Binayak Sen by a sessions court inChhattisgarh for acting as a courier to a jailed Maoistleader. The conviction has been challenged in the High Court.
"In our opinion, Section 3(5) cannot be read literally asotherwise it will violate Articles 19 9(free speech) and 21(liberty) of the Constitution. It has to be read in thelight of our observations made above. Hence, mere membershipof a banned organisation will not make a person a criminalunless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence orcreates public disorder by violence or incitement toviolence," a bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan SudhaMishra said in an order.
The apex court passed the order while upholding theappeal filed by Arup Bhuyan, an alleged activist of bannedULFA challenging his conviction by a designated TADA court inGuwhati for being a member of the organisation. (more) PTI RB