news Friday, May 22, 2015 - 05:30
In what could spell relief for many activists and others being branded as "Maoists" in Kerala, the High Court has observed that being a Maoist is not a crime and security forces cannot imprison someone on the basis that they were Maoists. The court has said that the state should arrest only those who have committed a crime.    The HC observed that though Maoism may not be a system of administration recognised by the Constitution, believing in an ideology like Maoism is not a crime by itself. It further added that every individual has the right to think for the progress of human beings, but it becomes problematic only when the ideology is used against the law of the land.   The court’s observations came while it was hearing a case of alleged torture by the "Thurderbolt" commandos of the Kerala police. The petition had been submitted by a person named Shyam Balakrishnan, son of a former High Court judge who was detained by the anti-Naxal force alleging Maoist link. Shyam, who was arrested on May 20, 2014 from Wayanad, alleged that he was stripped and subjected to a body search by the commandos. The police also conducted a search on Shyam's house.    According to a Live Law report, the police submitted before the court that a group had assembled in the area and that they took the petitioner to the police station to protect him. In the counter affidavit, it submitted that the petitioner was interrogated by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mananthavady and his laptops and mobile were taken by them for verification.     The court however concluded that the Police “violated liberty of the petitioner by taking him to custody without satisfying that the petitioner has been involved in any cognizable offence punishable under law.”   The High Court has also said that the state, in many cases, moved in to nab Maoists like a hunter catching its prey, which is why the state itself calls it “Maoist hunt”.   “It is the activities of the Maoists which have to be curbed if it affronts to the law of the land.  But, the State moved to nab the Maoist like a predator vying for prey.  This is nothing but disguised aberration of law in the cloth of uniform and the protector has become aggressor,” it observed.    In addition to this, Justice Muhammed Mushtaq said that lately, circumstances in the state were such that anyone could be arrested and imprisoned for being a Maoist. The Judge has asked Kerala government to pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Shyam Balakrishnan. The court has said that taking into consideration the mental torture that Shyam was put through, the compensation should be higher.    Lately, the Kerala government and police have come under severe criticism for arresting activists, journalists and others with alleged Maoist links.