Editorial: UAPA Doesn’t Override IPC

Editorial: UAPA Doesn’t Override IPC

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Thursday, May 16, 2024, 07:42 PM IST
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Representative Image | File

The Supreme Court has underlined the importance of following all the legal niceties even in cases registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. It was on this basis that a two-member Bench ordered the release of NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha. However stringent a law may be, it does not give the police freedom to bypass provisions of the Indian Penal Code that protect a citizen from illegal arrest. In the instant case, the accused was not given a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) based on which he was arrested. When he was presented before a magistrate for remand, his side was not heard because he was not even duly informed about why he was arrested. Worse, the remand order was tampered with by including two sentences from the FIR which were more refined and well-written than the previous sentences. The two judges were convinced that the addition was to make up for the lapse on the part of the police to give a copy of the FIR to the magistrate.

The citizen enjoys certain fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 20, 21, and 22 of the Constitution. These rights include the right to enjoy freedom of movement which can be curtailed only if the person concerned commits a crime and his arrest is inevitable while prosecuting him. A person who is arrested is entitled to know why he is being arrested. He also enjoys the right to defend himself when he is presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest. On October 3, 2023, the apex court had in a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) ordered that the police must share the FIR with the accused. The court has merely extended it to UAPA cases also.

Very serious charges have been made against Purkayastha. While the court took cognisance of the fact that the police have filed a charge-sheet against him, they have not framed the charges so that the trial could be started. Otherwise, he could have been released without having to provide surety. The conditions for bail in UAPA and PMLA cases are almost impossible to fulfil. This is all the more reason that the police follow all the constitutional requirements while arresting a person. The police also owe to the arrested person a responsibility to try him at the earliest, as underscored by the instant verdict.

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