Kerala HC: Religion does not propagate terrorism; fundamentalists have distorted religion

The court was considering applications for suspension of sentence filed by a few convicts, held guilty under UAPA for associating with ISIS

Kerala HCImage: Bar and Bench

“No religion propagates terrorism or hatred. But, unfortunately, some fanatics or religious fundamentalists have distorted the views of religion”

A division Bench of Kerala High Court made these observations while considering pleas of persons convicted of supporting and associating with ISIS. While the bench of Justices Alexander Thomas and Sophy Thomas, did not grant the bail, considering the nature of their offence to be very serious, these observations were included in the order with the intention to save an entire religion from being vilified for acts of terrorism committed by a few.

The applications were filed by accused no 1, 2 and 5 seeking suspension of sentence. They were convicted under sections 38 (membership of a terrorist organization) and 39 (support given to a terrorist organization) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years and fine. The applicants (accused) were arrested in October 2017 and were neve granted bail until completion of trial. They were sentenced in July 2022 which means they had only 2 years of sentence left to be served (considering the period in remand).

They contended that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and they claimed that they have every chance to succeed in appeal and hence they pleaded that their sentence be suspended otherwise their appeal will become infructuous. As per NIA, the trial court based on legal evidence, found that the applicants, with the intention of joining ISIS, a proscribed terrorist organisation, tried to cross over to Syria to further its activities and there was sufficient evidence to conclude that they associated themselves with ISIS.

Speaking on terrorism, in general, the court opined,

“Terrorism is an evil affecting the life and liberty of people. It affects the growth of the nation in all respects. In fact, no religion propagates terrorism or hatred. But, unfortunately, some fanatics or religious fundamentalists have distorted the views of religion, for spreading messages of terrorism and hatred, without realising the amount of damage it is doing to the society as well as to the country as a whole.” (Para 17)

The court observed that the nature of the allegations against the applicants were serious. The court also went through the evidence on the basis of which conviction was applied and found that there was a clear finding as to the conspiracy of the applicants and their intention to perform Hijra to Syria for indulging in Jihad. “No patent infirmity is there in the order of conviction which would render it prima facie erroneous… Prima facie nothing is there, cogent enough to raise substantial doubts regarding the validity of the conviction” (para 23), the court held.

The court, while considering their plea that 80% of their sentence has been served and their appeals if not heard within 2years will become infructuous held that normally section 436A of CrPC can be applied. However, evidence that points towards the applicants accepting the call of ISIS and their intention to perform Hijra to Syria to indulge in Jihad. The court said that the applicants acted against the security and integrity of the nation and their applications must be considered with all seriousness and not casually.

“So, even if the applicants/appellants have undergone major portion of the sentence imposed on them, it is not safe to release them on bail, as we do not know whether they still entertain the idea of performing Hijra to Syria for indulging in violent jihad.” (Para 27)

Thus, the court held that even though they have undergone a major portion of their sentence, it was not inclined to suspend their sentence and release them on bail. The court clarified that the observations were limited to these applications and shall not have an impact on the appeals proceedings.

The complete order may be read here:



Student leaders made scapegoats, prosecution cavalier: Court discharges 11 in  2019 Jamia violence case

Adivasi activist Hidme Markam walks out of jail 22 months after being branded a “terrorist”

More 90k undertrials in UP prisons with 24% SCs, 5% ST and 46% OBC: MHA



Related Articles