HC notice to Centre, UP on plea for release of men held for alleged PFI membership

The Allahabad high court on Wednesday issued notices to the Central and Uttra Pradesh governments while hearing a petition seeking the release of three men, alleged to be members of the Popular Front of India (PFI), arrested while on their way to meet the family of the Hathras gang-rape victim.

A bench of justices Pritinker Diwaker and SC Sharma has sought responses from the Central government, state government, the superintendent of Mathura district jail and sub-inspector of Maant police station in Mathura, Prabal Pratap Singh, on the habeas corpus pleas filed on behalf of the accused — Atiq-ur- Rehman from Muzaffar Nagar, Masood from Bahraich and Alam from Rampur.

Seeking release from jail, the petition has challenged the order of the magistrate by which the three were sent to judicial remand calling it unlawful.

The petition said that the Mathura chief judicial magistrate did not have the jurisdiction to try the matter or remand the petitioners to custody. It added that Rehman and Masood were going to meet the bereaved family while Alam was ferrying them to the destination.

Representing the petitioners, senior advocate SFA Naqvi argued, “The petitioners are unfortunate victims and scapegoats of the high-handedness of the police authorities. None of them are PFI members. They have committed no offence, which is clear from a bare perusal of the sections slapped on them and the allegations in the FIR, which are completely false and bogus, and no case against them is made out.”

The three men were arrested by Mathura police on October 5 and charged under various sections of the IPC, along with sections 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and relevant sections of the IT Act.

Police had alleged that the three had links PFI student wing Campus Front of India (CFI).

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