The bench comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela Trivedi noted the submission of Anand Grover, the counsel of the accused that he had only made critical comments on the ongoing turmoil in Afghanistan, and that Taliban is a political movement.
THE Supreme Court earlier today restrained the Assam police from filing a charge sheet against an advocate who is facing charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (‘UAPA’), for allegedly posting a message on a social media platform in support of the Taliban during the Afghanistan crisis last year. A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela Trivedi directed the accused, Taher Ahmed Barbhuiya, to join the investigation in the meanwhile, and ordered the listing of the petition on August 22. The bench has also issued notice to the Assam government.
Barbhuiya has approached the Supreme Court against the Gauhati High Court’s refusal to quash the first information report (‘FIR’) against him for the offences under Sections 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 505(1)(c) (statements conducing to incitement of offence by a class or community against another) and 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code, read with Section 39 (offence relating to support given to a terrorist organisation) of the UAPA.
Senior advocate Anand Grover, for Barbhuiya, told the bench that he was not a member of any banned organisation. This response came when the bench sought to inquire whether Barbhuiya had been a member of any banned organisation, to which Grover submitted that the petitioner is a practicing advocate, and the high court wrongly refused to quash the FIR.
In August last year, a complaint was given to the Assam Police alleging that Barbhuiya, amidst the political crisis in Afghanistan, had posted on facebook that “A history has been created, long live Taliban”, following which the complaint had been made and an FIR was filed against him. The complaint also alleged that the post had praised and glorified ‘Tehreek-e-Taliban’, a terrorist organization that has waged a prolonged violent war against the democratically elected government in Pakistan.
Barbhuiya, on the other hand, denying the post, had submitted before the high court that he had instead posted on Facebook, criticising the turmoil in Afghanistan, referring to a picture of an Afghan handing over his child to the American army as follows: “Painful, frustrating, shameful- An Afghan citizen is handing over his child to American army leaving for America.”
The petition, filed through Advocate-on-Record Fuzail Ahmed Ayyubi, contended that the high court, without scrutinizing the facts, dismissed the petition seeking quashing of the FIR. It asserted that the petitioner made no incriminating post, but had only criticised the state of affairs in Afghanistan, where a father was seen in pictures handing over his child to the leaving United States-North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops.
The plea stated that the petitioner had not made any post regarding ‘Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’, which is mentioned in the List established and maintained pursuant to a United Nations Security Council (‘UNSC’) Resolution, and attracted provisions under the UAPA. The petition further states that even if it is assumed that the petitioner had posted any such post, even then the provisions of UAPA could not be attracted as the Taliban in Afghanistan is a political movement presently in the ruling national government of Afghanistan which is not a proscribed organisation either under the UAPA or as per the UNSC.