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Bhubaneswar: On 28 January, 2019, Shatrughan Biswal and Prashant Parida along with Manjulata Muduli were remanded to Alipingal Jail in Jagatsinghpur district after being denied bail by the Sessions Court. They have been charged under sedition and sections 10 and 13 of the UAPA. Manjulata Muduli has already spent more than 10 years as an under trial implicated in the Nayagarh armoury loot case.

The present case is the outcome of an FIR registered in Raghunathpur PS on 8 August, 2008 where some persons were implicated of involvement with Maoist activity. On 31, July 2010, the Sessions Court had acquitted four of them: Pratima Das, Debendra Das, Suresh Mallick and Jogesh Chandra Rout. The court had categorically stated that the prosecution failed to prove the factum of seizure of any incriminating material that has been banned by the Odisha state government or by Government of India. Later in 2016, Prasanna Pal and Ranjan Rout were also acquitted.

When Shatrughan Biswal and Prashant Parida appealed for the quashing of the case against them in the High Court, the Court ordered their immediate surrender without even granting bail, leave alone quashing the case. We see no justification whatsoever in the denial of bail to them by the High Court. Thus, despite the high number of acquittals, three more people have been charged under sedition and UAPA charges under the same case.

We are shocked how the High Court could take cognisance of the offences under sections 10 and 13 of the UAPA without any notification issued by the central government declaring “unlawful association” as the law mandates. In the absence of any valid sanction by the central government, the foisting of charges under these sections is highly questionable. The charges of sedition also have not been sanctioned by the state government.

As defenders of human rights, we:

• Decry the hasty and arbitrary manner in which charges under sedition and UAPA are invoked
• Demand an immediate withdrawal of the cases against all three of them
• Demand a time-bound trial of the earlier case of Manjulata Muduli

  1. Biswapriya Kanungo, Advocate
  2. Ranjana Padhi, PPSC, Odisha
  3. Pramodini Pradhan, PUCL, Odisha
  4. Srimanta Mohanty, Political Activist
  5. Surya Dash, Film Maker
  6. Prashant Paikrai, PPSS
  7. Prafulla Samantara, Lokshakti Abhiyan
  8. Sudhir Pattnaik, Journalist and Social Activist
  9. Sivaram, Odisha State Secretary, CPI(ML) Red Star
  10. Bibek Ranjan, State Secretary, OPDR-India
  11. Pratima Das, Advocate
  12. Rumita Kundu, Social Activist
  13. Narendra Mohanty, Campaign against Fabricated Cases
  14. Tapan Mishra, Social Activist
  15. Manoranjan Routray, Advocate, Koraput
  16. Dhirendra Panda, Convenor, Civil Society Forum on Human Rights
  17. C. Dani, Human Rights Defender
  18. Golak Bihari Nath, GASS, Odisha
  19. Deba Ranjan, GASS, Odisha
  20. Abhiram Mallick, Mulnivasi Samata Parishad, Odisha
  21. Abani Gaya, Manav Adhikar Surakshya Manch, Brahmapur
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