Today News Online Service
New Delhi, April 9
Holding that payment of extortion money does not amount to terror funding, the Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to a businessman charged with certain crimes under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
“A close scrutiny of the material placed before the court would clearly show that the main accusation against the Appellant is that he paid levy/extortion amount to the terrorist organization. Payment of extortion money does not amount to terror funding,” said a Bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Ravindra Bhat while granting bail to one Sudesh Kedia.
Kedia – who was carrying on transport business – was accused of paying money to the members of a terrorist gang TPC and hobnobbing with them for running his business smoothly. An amount of close to Rs 10 lakh was also recovered from his residence.
A Ranchi court had dismissed his bail plea and the Jharkhand High Court had upheld the rejection order. However, unconvinced with the allegations, the Supreme Court reversed the order.
“Payment of extortion money does not amount to terror funding. It is clear from the supplementary charge-sheet and the other material on record that other accused who are members of the terrorist organization have been systematically collecting extortion amounts from businessmen in Amrapali and Magadh areas… Prima facie, it cannot be said that the Appellant conspired with the other members of the TPC and raised funds to promote the organization,” it said.
While dealing with a bail plea under Section 43(5)D of the UAPA, the court was duty-bound to apply its mind and examine the entire material on record to satisfy itself if a prima facie case was made out against the accused, the Bench said.
With regard to recovery of money, the top court didn’t agree with the prosecution that the amount is 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 (Kedia) was receiving any money,” it said.