Taking on the Supreme Court over its judgment that mere membership of a banned outfit is not a crime, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said this could have serious implications for the country's sovereignty.
"The Supreme Court judgment saying that mere membership of a banned organisation is not an offence has very serious implications on India's sovereignty. This judgment if allowed to stand will remove the entire pressure that has been built on insurgent, banned groups," Jaitley said. "The implication is that specific acts have to be attributed to each individual…"
Jaitley said the judgment would have implications for banned groups trying to negotiate with the government, suggesting they would run away from the negotiating table with pressure easing on them.
"The government has rightly said we will seek review of the judgment. If it's not reviewed, the government must consider bringing clarificatory legislation that explicitly says that membership of a banned group is an offence," he said.
The Supreme Court passed the order recently while upholding the appeal filed by Arup Bhuyan, an alleged activist of banned ULFA challenging his conviction by a designated TADA court in Guwahati for being a member of the organisation. Section 3(5) of the TADA makes mere membership of a banned organisation a criminal offence though in this case Bhuyan denied any membership with the ULFA.
"In our opinion, Section 3(5) cannot be read literally as otherwise it will violate Articles 19 9(free speech) and 21 (liberty) of the Constitution. Hence, 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," the bench of justice Markandeya Katju and justice Gyan Sudha Mishra said.