Sanatan Sanstha is not terrorist outfit under UAPA, it aims to ‘impart spiritual knowledge’, says HC
The Hindutva organisation is accused of playing a role in the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare.
Hindutva organisation Sanatan Sanstha is not a terrorist outfit under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act but is a registered charitable trust that aims “to impart spiritual knowledge to the curious in the society”, the Bombay High Court said last week.
A division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Kamal Khata made the observation on March 23 while granting bail to a man identified as Vijay Lodhi, accused of offences under the anti-terror law, Bar and Bench reported.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad had arrested Lodhi for allegedly preparing and storing explosives as well as firearms in his home for the Hindutva organisation.
He is an active member of the Sanatan Sanstha, whose objective is to form a Hindu rashtra or a Hindu nation “by secretly forming a terrorist gang within Maharashtra and adjoining states”, according to the Anti-Terrorism Squad.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad had also accused Lodhi of being part of a conspiracy to destabilise India.
The Sanatan Sanstha, which has a presence across Goa and Maharashtra, is accused of playing a role in the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and journalist Gauri Lankesh.
A special court had earlier rejected his bail plea, after which Lodhi approached the High Court.
In its order, the bench said the evidence collected in the case is “quiet disappointing” and stated that there is prima facie no material to show Lodhi’s involvement in the alleged criminal conspiracy.
Citing the website of the Sanatan Sanstha, the judges said the organisation wants to “inculcate religious behavior in the masses and providing personal guidance to seekers for their spiritual upliftment”.