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Supreme Court to CG Govt: Is call for revolution an offence?

From PTI:

New Delhi, May 31: The Supreme Court Tuesday granted bail to alleged Maoist sympathiser Piyush Guha wondering whether a call for a revolution to reform the society could be treated as an offence.

“A large number of material and news come to us. Similarly, such material comes to you and this person also. If that is his ideology and he says revolution is the only way to reform society, can we say that is an offence”? vacation bench of justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad said.

The apex court made the remarks after senior counsel U U Lalit, appearing for Chhattisgarh government, opposed the bail on the ground that Guha was an active sympathiser of Maoists and there were a large number of material and pamphlets to link him to the banned organisation. The bench said mere possession of certain material cannot be a ground for convicting a person.

“Apart from these documents, are there any other material? Possession of papers is not an offence. We can’t go on the basis of mere surmises and conjectures”, the bench said.

Lalit submitted the state had material to show that Guha, besides being a Maoist sympathiser, had eulogised the killing of policemen by Naxalites and was also an accused in the Purulia arms drop case in West Bengal.

Lalit said the state had seized pamphlets to prove that Maoists had said that Guha had done a “commendable job” for the organisation.

“It is very difficult to give a definite meaning to the word commendable. It is said in different context and perspective. Also, it differs in meaning from person to person.

Courts cannot convict a person unless there is evidence. Except possession of material, there is no other evidence,” the bench said while proceeding to grant bail to Guha.

“Although this court does not interfere in the grant of bail when co-accused Binayak Sen has been granted bail by this court, the sentence imposed by the trial court is suspended. Petitioner is directed to be released on bail on furnishing Rs 2 lakh with two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each”, the bench said in its order.

Guha, a Kolkata-based businessman, was convicted along with Sen and Naxal ideologue Narayan Sanyal for colluding with Maoists to establish a network to fight the state. They were awarded life imprisonment.

He then challenged his conviction in the Chhattisgarh High Court which refused to grant him bail in the case.