Case against PFI activists shifted to NIA court in Lucknow
While Kappan and three others were booked under sedition, UAPA charges after they attempted to visit the family of the Hathras victim last year, the four remaining were nabbed subsequently
A local court in Mathura has transferred the ongoing case of the eight PFI activists, including Malayali journalist Siddiqui Kappan, to a special NIA court in Lucknow.
While Kappan and three others, Atiq-ur-Rahman, Masood Ahmad and Alam, were booked under charges of sedition and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after they attempted to visit the family of the 19-year-old Dalit rape and murder victim in Hathras last year, the four remaining were nabbed subsequently.
The four others include Rauf Sherif, general secretary of the Campus Front of India, the student wing of Popular Front of India (PFI), Asad Badruddin, Firoz Khan and Danish. All were accused of receiving funds from abroad to foment caste riots in Hathras.
The court of additional and sessions judge Anil Kumar Pandey ordered the transfer of the case after accepting an application filed by Special Task Force (STF) stating that the government has constituted a special court in the state headquarters under Section 22 of the NIA Act.
The next hearing of the case is now scheduled in Lucknow on January 7.
Madhuvan Dutt Chaturvedi, the lawyer representing the PFI activists in Mathura court, said that he would be challenging the court's order in the high court.
Opposing the STF plea for transfer in the court, the defence lawyer argued that the special NIA court can hear only those cases which were investigated under compliance of section 6 of the NIA Act. However, no such procedure was followed by the state police in this case.
Explaining it further, he said that UAPA offences are listed under the NIA Act and Section 6 of the Act says that after an offence is registered, the station in-charge is supposed to file a report to the state government, which informs the Centre. Within 15 days, the centre takes a call on whether it was a scheduled offence or not.
The five-member team of the STF of Uttar Pradesh Police had filed a 5,000-page charge sheet against the eight PFI members in Mathura court in April this year.