Union of India vs K. A. Najeeb (2021) 3 SCC 713 - Synopsis
Team SoOLEGAL 28 Jun 2021

In 2010, K.A. Najeeb, the respondent was f accused of encouraging an unlawful act against Professor TJ Joseph at Thodupuzha, Kerala.  the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2015 arrested Najeeb who was a member of a fundamentalist group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). In 2019, the Kerala HC due to delay in trails granted Najeeb bail. A Special Leave Petition under Article 136 was filed in the Supreme Court, where NIA challenged the Kerala HC order because earlier bail for the same person was rejected by the NIA special court on the grounds of UAPA provisions. Based on of Section 43D (5) of the UAPA that rejects bail for the crime under the same Act. The issues before the court were, firstly, if violation of the Article 21 expel the legal afflictions mentioned in Section 43D (5) of UAPA. Secondly, in case the prima facie evidence shows the suspect to be guilty, if the court is bound to deny bail or not. Lastly, if the decision to grant bail taken by the court can be questioned without mentioning any special justification.

The decision of Kerala HC was upheld by the Supreme Court, aiming at the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution to the respondent. Thus, the SLP was not maintainable. The court observed that the presence of legal limitations like Section 43D (5) of UAPA as such doesn't expel the capacity of Constitutional Courts to allow bail on the grounds of infringement of Part III of the Constitution. Further holding, “Courts are expected to appreciate the legislative policy against the grant of bail but the rigours of such provisions will melt down where there is no likelihood of trial being completed within a reasonable time and the period of incarceration already undergone has exceeded a substantial part of the prescribed sentence. Such an approach would safeguard against the possibility of provisions like Section43D (5) of UAPA being used as the sole metric for denial of bail or for wholesale breach of the constitutional right to speedy trial.” Thereafter, it was added that both the power of constitutional jurisdiction and limitations of a statute can be harmoniously interpreted. Even though the accused was found guilty under prima facie circumstance, the judges considered the respondents span in custody, while delivering the judgement. The court stated, “An attempt has been made to strike a balance between the appellant’s right to lead evidence of its choice and establish the charges beyond any doubt and simultaneously the respondent’s rights guaranteed under Part III of our Constitution have been well protected” and affirmed high court’s decision. It was said obiter dictum that Section 43D(5) of the UAPA is nearly less rigid than Section 37 of the NDPS. UAPA has no preconditions instead just gives another conceivable ground to the capable court to decline bail so, there was no reason to question the high court’s decision. A few additional conditions were imposed by the Hon’ble bench lastly.


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