Banned outfits: SC admits govt plea to revisit observation

Admitting the Centre's request to clarify and expunge its observation that members of banned outfits cannot be treated as criminals until they indulge in or incite violence, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to re-examine its mandate and issued notices on the government's petition.

A Bench led by Justice G S Singhvi issued notices to the appellants in two cases wherein the SC had held that "mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence".

An SC Bench had in February 2011 decided two separate appeals by Arup Bhuyan and Indra Das. Both of them were convicted under thelapsed TADA for being members of ULFA.

Acquitting the convicts, the Bench had asserted that provisions of TADA or Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which made mere membership of a banned organisation as punishable offence must be "read down", as it will violate Articles 19 and 21. Since the observations had a bearing on the specific provisions under the UAPA that criminalised membership of a terrorist organisation, the ASG Mohan Parasaran on Monday requested the court to re-visit the matter.

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