Indian SC rules against criminalising membership of banned organisations
[TamilNet, Monday, 07 March 2011, 09:09 GMT]
“Mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence,” ruled the Supreme Court of India in an appeal case of an activist of ULFA, a banned organisation in India. The apex court also said that confession recorded by a police officer is not an admissible piece of evidence unless corroborated by material evidence, The Hindu reported Friday. The judgment will have significant bearing on many cases and convictions against activists and supporters of various banned organisations in India, observers said.
“Confession is a very weak kind of evidence. As is well known, the widespread and rampant practice in the police in India is to use third degree methods for extracting confessions from the alleged accused. Hence, the courts have to be cautious in accepting confessions made to the police by the alleged accused.”
“Unfortunately, the police in our country are not trained in scientific investigation (as is the police in western countries) nor are they provided the technical equipment for scientific investigation. Hence, to obtain a conviction, they often rely on the easy short cut of procuring a confession under torture.”
“Torture is such a terrible thing that when a person is under torture he will confess to almost any crime. Even Joan of Arc confessed to be a witch under torture. Hence, where the prosecution case mainly rests on the confessional statement made to the police by the alleged accused, in the absence of corroborative material, the courts must be hesitant before they accept such extra-judicial confessional statements,” the Supreme Court said in its judgment.