Gauhati High Court releases College Student Held Under UAPA for Her Facebook Post on Bail, as Investigation Disclosed no Incriminating Material

AFTER two months of incarceration, B.Sc. student Barshashree Buragohain was granted bail by the Gauhati High Court on Thursday. She had been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (‘UAPA’), for her Facebook post “Swadhin Surjyar Dikhe Akou Ekhuj, Akou Korim Rashtra Droh” which translates into English as “One more step towards independent sun, again, we shall do seditious act.” The Assam police had accused her of threatening the sovereignty of India and boosting up the unlawful objective of a banned organization – the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent.

Justice Ajit Borthakur observed that the contents of the Facebook post, which is in the form of one poetic line, expressed her feeling without reference to any organization. He added that he had examined the petitioner’s case in the light of Article 19(1)(a) (fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression) and (2) (reasonable restrictions on this right) of the as well as the definition of “unlawful activity” provided in Section 2(o) of the UAPA.

“On scrutiny of the pros and cons of the evidence so far collected by the investigating officer in the case and having regard to the submissions made by the learned counsel for both the sides as stated above as well as the length of detention, this Court is of the opinion that further continuation of detention of the accused petitioner may not be required in the interest of the ongoing investigation”, Justice Borthakur held. He accordingly ordered Buragohain’s release on bail of Rs. 25,000/- (rupees twenty five thousand) with one surety of like amount.

Also read: Wanton, frivolous use of UAPA by the State undermines Parliament’s intent in enacting anti-terror law: Delhi HC

On her part, Buragohain submitted that she was in no way involved in the commission of the alleged offences, and that her Facebook account was hacked by some unknown person, due to which she did not have any access to the social media platform Facebook. Interestingly, the public prosecutor submitted that the case diary revealed prima facie no sufficient incriminating material against her requiring her continuation of detention any further in the interest of investigation, which is yet to be completed.

Buragohain has been in judicial custody since May 18. She had earlier prayed for bail before the District and Sessions Court, Golaghat, which rejected her application. She had also filed an application requesting the Golaghat court to allow her to appear for her semester examinations which began on July 16. The court had granted her permission for the same with a necessary police escort and precautionary measures.

Click here to read the order.

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