Karnataka: Court acquits two men, says book on Bhagat Singh does not prove link to Naxalites

Karnataka: Court acquits two men, says book on Bhagat Singh does not prove link to Naxalites

A sessions court in Mangaluru, Karnataka, on Saturday acquitted two men who were charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2012 for having alleged links with Naxalites, Live Law reported.

The court said that the material seized from the acquitted persons, including a book on Bhagat Singh, which was used to claim they had links to a group of Naxalites, was not illegal. The court also observed that most of the seized material comprised articles “required for day-to-day livelihood”.

Journalist Vittala Malekudiya and his father Lingappa Malekudiya of Kuthloor village in Karnataka were charged with criminal conspiracy and sedition on March 3, 2012, for allegedly helping five Naxals in the Kudremukh forest region.

The five Naxals were never arrested despite being named in the first information report with the Malekudiyas, according to The Indian Express. Subsequently, the case of the five Naxals was separated from the Malekudiyas by a magistrate’s court.

The court on Saturday observed that the police had failed to establish that the two had any links to the group of Naxalites based on the mobile phones and material seized from them in 2012.

“The CDR [call detail records] of these mobiles have not been produced,” the court said. “Even during the course of trial, the prosecution has not shown the incriminating evidence available in original mobiles seized…mere seizure of mobiles from the custody of accused or at their instance would not help the case of the prosecution in any manner.”

The court added that the letter, which was a part of the material seized from Vittala Malekudiya, was not incriminating as it called for the boycott of a Lok Sabha bye-election in 2012 in Kuthloor village since the demands of the people were unfulfilled.

“On reading it can be easily stated that such letters contain demands of local people,” the court said.

The court also observed that 10 people from the village, who were among the 23 prosecution witnesses, had not supported the police case.

“None of the witnesses have stated that the accused No.6 and 7 [Vittala Malekudiya and Lingappa Malekudiya] have committed the offence of sedition,” the court said.

It added: “There is no evidence on record to show that the accused No.6 or 7 by their words or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, brought or attempted to bring in hatred or contempt or excited or attempted to excite disaffection towards the Government.”

The counsel of the acquitted people, Ullepady, said that the sessions court had not given them an “honourable acquittal”.

“Honourable acquittals are given when police have filed a false case and the honour of the arrested person has to be restored,” he said. “The court has given only an acquittal and we will approach the High Court for an honourable acquittal.”

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