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The high court granted bail to the accused while noting that the initiative taken by the organization was for spreading spirituality in the society
A division bench of Justice Sunil B Shukre and Justice Kamal Khata has recently granted bail to a person booked under UAPA while observing that ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ banned or terrorist organization or a frontal organization of any banned terrorist group within the meaning and contemplation of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004.
The high court was hearing an appeal filed by one of the accused against the order of the Special Court denying bail to him. The appellant was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) for allegedly preparing and storing explosives and firearms in his own house for the organization.
The allegation was that the appellant was an active member of a Hindu Organization ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ whose object is to form ‘Hindu Rashtra’ by secretly forming a terrorist gang within the State of Maharashtra and adjoining States. It is further alleged that in order to achieve the object of ‘Sanatan Sanstha’, the accused persons including the present appellant collected or prepared crude bombs and stored explosives and firearms.
Further, it was alleged that certain training camps were organized in order to provide training to the members of ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ in the handling of explosions and the use of firearms and the appellant was its beneficiary.
One of the contentions was also that objective of members of ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ was to prevent the screening of movies, holding of western cultural programs, and organizing such events as the ‘sunburn’ festival and other similar functions, which were, perceived by ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ to be against the tenets of Hinduism and ideology followed by ‘Sanatan Sanstha’.
The counsel for the petitioner argued that there is absolutely no evidence collected by the police order to show any connection whatsoever of the appellant with the alleged conspiracy. He further submitted that there is no evidence to show that the recovery of crude bombs made from the ancestral house of the appellant was prima facie attributable to the appellant.
The Additional Public Prosecutor argued that there was some evidence showing that the appellant is a member of ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ whose aims and objectives are not conducive to the maintenance of integrity and sovereignty of India. He further contended that during the house search, three crude bombs were recovered from the house of the appellant and therefore, it can not be said that there is no prima facie evidence connecting the appellants to the conspiracy theory propounded by the prosecution in this case.
The high court while rejecting the contention of the State and granting bail to the accused observed that,
“The most intriguing part of this case is that ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ is an organization which has not been declared to be a banned or terrorist organization or a frontal organization of any banned terrorist group within the meaning and contemplation of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004. In fact, the official website of ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ shows that it is a registered charitable trust and its aim is to impart spiritual knowledge to the curious in the society, inculcate religious behavior in the masses and providing personal guidance to seekers for their spiritual upliftment. Official website also throws light upon the activities of ‘Sanatan Sanstha” the order reads,
Further, the high court also observed that the initiative taken by the organization was for spreading spirituality in the society
“These activities include such initiatives as are taken for spreading of spirituality in the society, organizing free of charge lectures and guidance camps on various aspects of spirituality and for initiating interested into spiritual endeavours, holding weekly Satsangs in local languages, guiding about the spiritual science, organizing ‘Bal Sanskar Varg / Moral Education Class for children, conducting education on dharma/righteousness and so on” the order stated
Case Title: Liladhar Vijay Lodhi vs State of Maharashtra
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