HE Supreme Court Friday ruled that payment of extortion money did not amount to terror funding under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) [UAPA] Act.
It granted bail to businessman Sudesh Kedia accused of providing financial support to the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), a splinter group of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
A bench of Justices Nageshwara Rao and Ravindra Bhat said it could not agree with the high court that there was a prima facie case against the petitioner.
The bench said a close scrutiny of the material would show the main allegation against Kedia was that he paid a levy/extortion amount to the terrorist organization. However, the payment of extortion money, the court said, did not amount to terror funding.
Referring to the supplementary charge-sheet, the top court said the petitioner paid money to the members of the TPC for the smooth running of his business but it could not, prima facie, be said that the petitioner conspired with the other members of the TPC and raised funds to promote the organization”, the court said.
Disapproving the approach of the Special Court and the High Court in denying bail to Kedia on the allegations that he had been in constant touch with the other accused- members of the terrorist organization, the apex court pointed out he had revealed in his statement recorded under Section 164 Cr.PC that he was summoned to meet accused members of the organization in connection with the payments made by him.
It said, prima facie, the court was not satisfied that a case of conspiracy had been made out at this stage only on the ground that the appellant met the members of the organization.
On the allegations of seizure of Rs 9,95,000 from the appellant’s house, the court said it did not agree with the prosecution that the amount was a terror fund.
“At this stage, it cannot be said that the amount seized from the appellant is proceeds from terrorist activity. There is no allegation that appellant was receiving any money. On the other hand, the appellant is accused of providing money to the members of TPC”, the court said.
The petitioner claimed he had withdrawn from the bank to pay salaries to his employees and other expenses.
Read the Order