HC grants bail to nine accused

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Granting bail to nine accused in a NIA case related to recovery of 504 gold bars at New Delhi Railway Station in August 2020, the Delhi High Court on Friday said mere smuggling of gold without any connection whatsoever to threatening economic security or monetary stability of India cannot be termed a terrorist act under UAPA.

The division bench of Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Mini Pushkarna said that though the Financial Action Task Force report – which became the basis of the amendment to definition of terrorist act in UAPA — specifically deals with the gold, the ‘gold’ has not been added while amending Section 15(1)(a)(iiia) of UAPA. The provisions describes damage to the monetary stability of India by way of production or smuggling or circulation of high quality counterfeit Indian paper currency, coin or of any other material, as terrorist activity.

Additional Solicitor General S.V Raju had argued before the court that the FATF report states that gold is a universally accepted currency, and gold can be traded anonymously. Such transactions would cause serious damage to the economic security of the country. The counsel representing the accused had argued that gold smuggling at best can be an offence under the Customs Act and cannot be termed a terrorist activity under UAPA.

Seven of the nine accused have spent more than 20 months in custody. Eight accused – Ravikiran Balaso Gaikwad, Pawan Kumar Mohan Gaikwad, Sachin Appaso Hasabe, Yogesh Hanmant Rupnar, Abhijeet Nand Kumar Babar, Avadhut Arun Vibhute, Saddam Ramjan Patel and Dileep Laxman Patil — had been intercepted by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence while they were travelling from Assam to Delhi. The gold bars weighing 83.621 kg were allegedly recovered from them. The NIA later registered a case of criminal conspiracy and terrorist activity in the case. The ninth accused, Vaibhav Sampat More, a jeweller, was arrested later.

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