The Delhi High Court Friday sought response of the NIA on a plea seeking a copy of an FIR registered against alleged members of the banned Popular Front of India (PFI) in a case lodged under the anti-terror law. Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta issued notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on a petition filed by one Mohd Yusuff, who was arrested from his residence in Chennai on September 22 in the case lodged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
During the hearing, the counsel for the NIA submitted that the Additional Solicitor General who has to argue the case was unwell after which the court listed the matter for October 10. Petitioner Yusuff, who claims to be a practising advocate, sought direction to the NIA to provide him a copy of the FIR lodged by the agency on April 13 and also to provide a copy of the grounds of arrest of each accused person in connection with the case. He also sought a copy of the remand applications filed by the NIA before a trial court.
The petitioner said he was arrested at 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 Delhi by the agency.“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 for a copy of the FIR on September 22 as well as on September 26. However, the additional sessions judge (ASJ) denied the application filed by the petitioner on grounds that the matter is of a sensitive nature and that providing a copy of the FIR would hamper the investigation, the petitioner submitted.
“Till date the petitioner is unaware of the particulars of the offences or the allegations against him despite being in the custody of the respondent since September 22.”The ASJ failed to appreciate that Section 50 CrPC clearly provides that every police officer arresting any person without warrant is required to communicate to such person the full particulars of the offence for which he is arrested or other grounds for such arrest. No such information has been given to the petitioner till date,” the petition submitted.It added that 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 that denial 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 a fair trial and investigation. Till now the NIA has arrested 19 cadres of the PFI from different parts of the country in a multi-agency operation led by the NIA. Out of these 19 people, 16 are in judicial custody and three are in NIA custody till October 10.
In near-simultaneous raids across the length and breadth of the country, a multi-agency operation spearheaded by NIA led to the arrest of 106 activists of PFI in 11 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. The arrests were made in various states including Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry and Delhi and Rajasthan. According to the NIA officials, the arrests were made during the raids which have been termed the “largest-ever investigation process till date”.