"Payment of extortion money does not amount to terror funding:" Supreme Court grants bail to accused charged under UAPA
The Supreme Court granted bail to a businessman convicted under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on Friday, ruling that "paying extortion money does not amount to terror funding."
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat was hearing a case in which a coal businessman was accused of paying money to members of the terrorist gang TPC and collaborating with them to run his company smoothly.
The Supreme Court stated that when deciding whether to grant bail under Section 43(5)D, it is the Court's duty to apply its mind to review all of the evidence on file in order to determine whether a prima facie case against the accused exists or not. A thorough examination of the evidence presented to the Court reveals that the key charge levelled against the Appellant is that he paid a levy or extortion amount to a terrorist group. The Supreme Court ruled that paying extortion money does not constitute terror funding. The top court also noted that other accused who are members of the terrorist group have been systematically collecting extortion amounts from businessmen in the Amrapali and Magadh regions, according to the supplementary charge-sheet and other evidence on record. The Court also decided that the appellant could not be accused of conspiring with other TPC members to collect funds to promote the organisation on the basis of prima facie evidence. The Ranchi trial court had previously denied his bail application, which was upheld by the Jharkhand High Court. The Supreme Court overturned the High Court's decision, saying that it was "not satisfied that a case of conspiracy has been made out at this point solely on the basis that the appellant encountered members of the association." In addition, a sum of nearly ten lakh rupees was discovered at his home, which the NIA claimed was a kickback for the activities in which he collaborated with the terrorist gang. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, stated that it does not agree with the prosecution that the money is from a terror fund. At this point, it is impossible to say if the money recovered from the Appellant was obtained by terrorist activity. The top court concluded that there was no evidence that Appellant was receiving any money.