The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday sought stands of the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea for the release of three persons, booked on charges of sedition and terrorism after their arrest along with a Kerala journalist in Mathura. The four had been arrested while going to a Hathras village to meet the family members of a Dalit woman who had died after being gang-raped in her village September.
Initially arrested on the suspicion of being a threat to the peace, they were booked two days later on a slew of stringent charges, including those of sedition and terrorism, and were sent to a Mathura jail under the judicial custody. A bench of justices Pritinker Diwaker and Justice S C Sharma issued notices to the Centre and the state government on a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of three alleged PFI activists — Atiqur Rahman, Aalam and Masood — all UP residents.
The bench also issued notices Mathura jail superintendent and Sub-Inspector Prabal Pratap Singh of Maant police station in Mathura seeking their stands on the plea seeking the release of Rehman, a student; Alam, a cab driver and Masood, a social activist. The bench fixed December 14 as the next date of hearing in the case.
The plea has challenged the order of an executive magistrate by which the three were remanded to judicial custody, contending that the order was legally untenable as an executive magistrate has no jurisdiction to issue the order in their case. The petitioners contended that even the Mathura chief judicial magistrate has no jurisdiction to try the matter or remand the petitioners to the police or judicial custody in the light of the Supreme Court judgments on the issue.
In the petition, it was stated that petitioners Atiqur Rehman and Masood were going to meet the bereaved family in taxi driver Alam’s vehicle on October 5, but were detained in Mathura. The counsel appearing for the petitioners argued that they are “unfortunate victims and scapegoats of the high-handedness of the police authorities”.
He said none of them is PFI member and they have committed no offence, which is clear from a bare perusal of the sections slapped on them and the allegations in the FIR, which are completely false and bogus, and no case is made out against them”. The petition, besides seeking the quashing of the remand order of the Mathura chief judicial magistrate, has also prayed for a direction to release the three on bail.