A person cannot be arrested for just being a Maoist: Kerala High Court

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On Friday, Kerala High Court has told that, if a person is Maoist then it is not a crime for being so and that person cannot be arrested for just being a Maoist. Shyam Balakrishnan has filed a writ petition under which who alleges that Kerala Police last year under suspicion had picked him up unlawfully thinking him to be a Maoist. Justice Muahmmed Mustaque told that a person can be arrested only if he is part of an unlawful activity. Judge said that freedom of liberty and thought is a natural right and being a Maoist is not a crime but freedom becomes unlawful when it restricts the physical law of the state. Balakrishnan was awarded by court an amount of Rupees 1 Lakh as compensation and 10,000 as litigation cost which the State Government had to pay him.

Thunderbolt, which is a special wing that operates in Kerala, under its police department which deals with Maoists had taken Balakrishnan under custody when he was riding a vehicle on May 20, 2014. When the information was received by the police from local intelligence sources police stopped him and took him under custody. He has alleged that after his arrest he was taken to police station and later his house was raided by the police and seized his mobile and laptop. He further stated that police tortured him and released after 9 hours and asked for some information relating to his friends and their identities and thus Balakrishnan later had appealed the High Court against the police stating that they infringed Article 21 of the constitution.

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He is the son of the retired judge Balakrishnan Nair and who is a philosophy student and is involved in organic farming. He pleaded that he is not a Maoist and said that his main concern was that there was violation of his rights. Few people in the village from Wayanad had suspected him to be a Maoist and thus informed the police about it which the police blindly believed without verifying the identity and arrested him. Police had kept him under custody for many hours and had raided his house too and said that the police should follow certain procedures to deal with these matters and that should be laid out.

Responding to the HC verdict, the Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said that the Government was mulling over to move a claim against the single seat decision, “which look at first sight not workable.” Chennithala additionally included that Nalini Netto, the State Home Secretary has been appointed to study the same for filing an appeal. He added that the police are moreover of notion that the decision would impact the pending cases related to Maoism.

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by Sushma Javare.