PFI man protesting denial of information on reason for arrest gets FIR copy

Last Updated 10 October 2022, 09:49 IST

Copies of the FIR and arrest memo have been supplied to a man arrested during the massive crackdown on the PFI before it was banned, the Delhi High Court was informed on Monday, days after the accused remonstrated the denial of information about the reasons for his arrest.

The alleged Popular Front of India (PFI) activist had moved the high court seeking a copy of the FIR registered against the members of the now outlawed organisation, the grounds for arrest of each of them, and the remand applications filed by the NIA for the custodial interrogation of the accused.

Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta listed the matter for further hearing on November 11 as the counsel for the accused said the case is listed before the trial court later in the day and he expects the remand application to be provided to him as his NIA custody is likely to end.

The counsel for Mohd Yusuff, who was arrested from his residence in Chennai on September 22 in the case lodged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the stringent anti-terror law, also told the high court he has received a copy of the FIR after filing the petition and that the accused will get to know the reasons for his arrest from NIA's remand application.

“How will we move bail application when we do not know the case against us?” advocate Adit Pujari, appearing for Yusuff, said during arguments.

The NIA's counsel noted the grounds of arrest are also mentioned in the FIR and vehemently opposed the accused's prayer for a copy of the remand application.

“The remand application is akin to our case diary. The case is at an initial stage. We are keeping it confidential as it can hamper our investigation. The procedure is that they have to first move to the special court and then come to the high court,” the NIA counsel said.

He said the remand application also contains what the agency is probing and, if supplied to the accused, it will prejudice the NIA's case.

A large number of alleged PFI activists were detained or arrested in several states during the massive raids preceding the nation-wide ban imposed on the radical Islamist outfit on September 28.

Petitioner Yusuff, who claims to be a practising advocate, had sought a direction to the NIA to provide him a copy of the FIR lodged by the agency in Delhi on April 13, the documents listing the grounds of arrest of each accused person and a copy of the remand applications filed by the NIA before the trial court.

The petitioner said he was arrested around 3 AM on September 22 from his residence in Chennai by the NIA along with others, who all were picked up from different parts of the country and brought to the national capital in connection with the case lodged in Delhi.

“At the time of his arrest, the respondent (NIA) did not communicate to the petitioner any particulars of the offence for which he has been arrested or any grounds of such arrest in clear violation of the statutory mandate provided under Section 50 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) read with Article 22(1) of the Constitution,” the plea submitted.

It said when the accused were produced before a trial court here, their counsel sought a copy of the FIR lodged on September 22 as well as on September 26.

However, the additional sessions judge (ASJ) rejected the application filed by the petitioner on the ground that the matter is of a sensitive nature and that providing a copy of the FIR will hamper the investigation, the petitioner submitted.

It added Article 22(1) of the Constitution prohibits the detention of a person arrested and in custody without being informed of the grounds of such arrest.

The plea said denial of a copy of the FIR, circumscribing the allegations and particulars of the offences against the accused persons, is a clear violation of the principles of natural justice and the accused person's right to fair trial and investigation.

The government banned the PFI and several of its associate organisations on September 28 for five years under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA, accusing them of having "links" with global terror groups like the ISIS.

(Published 10 October 2022, 09:43 IST)

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