Speech against political party, not unlawful activity under UAPA: J&K Court

The ASJ granted bail to NC leader Hilal Lone, noting that he did not call for cessation from the Union of India

Image Courtesy:thewire.in

Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Parihar of Jammu and Kashmir court has held that words that cause disaffection towards another community or political party cannot be termed “unlawful activity” under Section 2(o) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), reported Bar & Bench.

The court was hearing a bail plea filed by National Conference Leader Hilal Akbar Lone who has been accused of indulging in “anti-social, anti-government activities” by delivery of unlawful speech against government institutions.

According to an order uploaded by Bar & Bench, the State had argued that Hilal Lone’s speech was anti-establishment, highly provocative and instigated the general public against the integrity and security of the State.  

The ASJ said, “There is no allegation that he (Hilal) called for cessation of a territory of the State from the Union of India or that his words were intending to cause disaffection towards the country. At the most he had a certain diversion of opinion against policies of the present establishment which being part of politics, he is entitled to frame. That cannot be termed as amounting to causing disaffection against the country at large.”

The court accepted that the petitioner Hilal’s speech in the video could at the most, attract the offence of promoting enmity between various classes or questioning policies of the Government but it cannot be branded as an unlawful activity under UAPA.   

According to a report in The Wire, the Court observed that the allegation against the petitioner was not that he was exhorting people to overthrow the government by using force and violence. Bar & Bench quoted the ASJ as saying, “What is alleged therein is regarding the policies of the government of the day which according to the petitioner is branding Muslims as terrorists, whereas its own people are terrorising others and preventing them from discharging their religious beliefs.”

Thereafter, the court noted that he is not linked to any banned organisations and ordered for his release from jail. Hilal Akbar Lone was reportedly directed to furnish surety bonds worth Rs. 2 lakhs with one surety in the like amount and on the condition that he shall remain present for trial and not harass or intimidate prosecution witnesses.


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