Justice Bharati Dangre.

Bombay High Court grants bail to worker accused of offences under UAPA

THE Bombay High Court Wednesday granted bail to Saidulu Narsimha Singapanga, who is accused of disrupting essential services, sheltering a person accused of being a terrorist, and raising funds for a banned organisation. He was arrested in February 2018 and had been in prison since then.

The matter was heard by Justice Bharati Dangre. Advocates Sudeep Pasbola and Susan Abraham for the Singapanga and APP S.S. Kaushik appeared for the State.

As per the chargesheet, Singapanga is accused of offences under  Sections 13(1)(a), 13(1)(b), 16, 18(a), 18(b), 19, 20, 38, 39, 40 of UAPA (Amended 2004, 2008) alongwith Sections 465, 468 and 471 of IPC.

On January 12, 2018, five contract workers of Reliance Energy/Infrastructure Limited, and one labour contractor, were arrested by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), and charged under UAPA. The day before, another worker activist had been arrested based on information from secret sources. The arrested individuals include Babushankar Vonguri, Satyanarayana Karrela, Shankar Gunde, Saidulu Singapanga, Ravi Marampally.

During the hearing, Pasbola argued that the accused had not been charged under the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) and is not even named in the FIR.

He further added that the accused was arrested much later after the crime was registered and on his arrest, nothing incriminating is seized from him. According to Pasbola, the accused was mistaken for Saidulu Gondrigalla on the basis of the statements of the witnesses, and that the applicant is not the same person.

Pasbola also submitted that though the charge-sheet compiled statements of various persons, where the accused had been named, none of the statements implicated him in the offence alleged against him and, particularly, the offence under UAPA.

He further added that the accused was never served with a show-cause notice or chargesheet, and there is no proof for the allegations made against him.

APP S.S. Kaushik opposed the grant of bail. She submitted that the material which had been seized from the applicant clearly pinpoint his involvement and complicity in the offences alleged.

She further added that the accused was not only aiding the co-accused but had actively participated and involved himself in the meetings of the banned organisation, collecting and raising funds for the same, supported illegal activities of the banned organisation with an object to disturb the public peace and harmony.

Pasbola urged that all the co-accused had been enlarged on bail and the same benefit should be extended to the accused applicant as there was a clear absence of inculpatory material in the charge-sheet.

After a perusal of the evidence on record, the court found that the material did not prima facie indict that the accused had committed offenses under Sections 13, 16, 18, 18(a), 18(b), 19 and 20 alongwith Sections 30 and 40 of the UAPA.

The court also opined that the material in evidence did not indicate any act which causes or intended to cause disaffection against India.

Additionally, the court opined that considering that all other co-accused had already been released on bail, the accused applicant need not languish in prison.

The court granted bail to Saidulu Narsimha Singapanga provided that he furnished a P.R. bond to the extent of Rs.50,000/- with one or two sureties of the like amount.

The court also directed him to mark his presence in the Special Court once in every month and mark his presence with the ATS Police Station, Kalachowki, Mumbai, in the first week of every month.

The accused is also required to not interfere with witnesses and not make any attempt to tamper with evidence.

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