Centre to challenge SC order on members of banned groups

New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) The Centre has decided tochallenge a Supreme Court order that members of banned groupscannot be treated as criminals till they indulge in violence,saying police cannot wait for them to carry out terror acts.

Sources said the Central government would soon move alarger bench of the apex court to challenge the order of thetwo-judge bench which recently had said that mere membershipof a banned group will not make a person a criminal unless heresorts to violence or incites people to violence or createspublic disorder by violence or incitement to violence.

The government''s view is that authorities cannot waitfor each individual member to commit any criminal act and itis liable to take action against him since being a member of abanned organisation, he subscribes to the ideology of thatgroup which believes in violence.

"We will ask for a review of the Supreme Court orderas it flies out of the common logic. Otherwise some members ofAl Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba would open offices in India sayingthat they would not indulge in violent acts," a source said,adding freedom of expression is one issue but joining anorganisation which indulge in violence is a complete differentmatter.

Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra''s lastFriday ruling was part of a judgement acquitting Arup Bhuyan,convicted by a Guwahati court under the now lapsed anti-terrorlaw Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

Bhuyan was a suspected member of the outlawed ULFAwhich figures at the top of the home ministry''s list of bannedorganisations.

"We hope that a larger bench of the honourable SupremeCourt will review the case," the source said.

The trial court had convicted Bhuyan based on hisconfession to police, admissible as evidence under TADA.

Bhuyan had appealed in Supreme Court.

Allowing his petition, the court said his convictionwas based on "a very weak kind of evidence" and could not besustained in the absence of corroborative material.

On the confessions, Justices Katju and Misra expressedstrong views.

"As is well known, the widespread and rampant practicein the police in India is to use third-degree methods forextracting confessions from the alleged accused. Hence, thecourts have to be cautious in accepting confessions made tothe police by the alleged accused," the Bench said.

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