Faizan Mustafa cautions against use of ‘terror’ charges without understanding the law

Globally known legal luminary Faizan Mustafa has spoken about the Delhi High Court judgement wherein three activists against CAA who had been arrested were released later. They had been charged by the police of ‘terrorism.’

Speaking on his YouTube channel Legal Awareness Web Series, Prof Mustafa has discussed the definition terrorism and what amounts to be an act of terrorism.

He starts off saying that it is time for the country to understand the word terrorism as given in the law and says that even the Supreme Court  after  looking into the appeal challenging  the Delhi High Court order is of the opinion that sending the three activists to jail again wouldn’t be the right thing.

Explaining  that terrorism is understood differently at different  times, places, and culture he says that years ago when Bhagat Singh bombed the central assembly, he was regarded as terrorist by Britishers but  Indians called him the country’s hero.  He also points out that till day there is  no international law to understand  terrorism  and even after the United Nation forming committees there is no universal standard definition of Terrorism.   He says that there are more than 100 definitions  coined on terrorism but  countries are not  able to control it yet.

He quotes a statement of Rajesh Pilot, Home Minister, from 1994 that 67,000  arrest were made under TADA  but only 725 were convicted. The review committee found TADA to be applicable to only 500 arrested persons.  TADA was used so that the bail is not granted and the same is happening with UAPA now. The Delhi High Court wants to stop this trend.  Explaining further, he says when we view the Delhi High Court judgement we see that it is  clearly based on the previous orders of the Supreme Court and how many judgments the Supreme Court will overrule to bring stay to the Delhi High Court order now if it all it wants to do it.

Talking about the accused Asif Tanha case, he says that charges against him is of forming a WhatsApp group and provoking violence. He questions whether all these can amount to act of Terrorism?

If protesting against a law is terrorism then the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of people who had gathered against the Rolatt Act were terrorist and not General Dyer who opened fire to disperse gathered crowd. Giving another example he asks: Can Gandhi ji be called as terrorist for carrying Dandy march in protest against Salt laws? Even till day, from TADA to UAPA, there is no precise definition of terrorism or terrorist activities.

Reading out Articles 15 and 16, he says that three accused were not carrying a bomb, dynamite and guns against the country’s security to be charged as terrorists.  On the other hand, he says mob lynching has the features of terrorism and that the person doing lynching wants to send the message to the victims that no law can save him. He repeats the Supremo Court words that every terrorist is criminal but not every criminal is terrorist and so they cannot be dealt under UAPA.  People are being arrested under UAPA and their lives being spoiled. This is being done without clear understanding of terrorism. Citing the Supreme Court judgement in Kattar, Arun Ghosh and other cases, he says that the act of protest against the law and order cannot be equated with terrorism which is against the nation and global phenomenon.  Moreover, he says that the Supreme Court invoking Sanjay Dutt case has reiterated that terrorism will be interpreted in its narrower meaning for its vagueness and not in its literal meaning.

Ending the video, he quotes Allama Iqbal’s poetry to assert that China and other countries have invaded India but had to flee.  What has remained is Hindustan.

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