Delhi riots case National

Delhi Police move Supreme Court against bail to 3 students in riots case

Twenty-four hours after getting bail, student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha are yet to taste freedom even as the Delhi police quickly moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday against their release.

The virtual court of Sessions Judge Ravinder Bedi heard the students’ lawyers press for their clients’ immediate release, saying they could not be made to spend another night in jail after getting bail.

But the police objected, saying they should not be released until the outstation addresses of the three students and their sureties were verified. In short, the police sought more time to file its verification report.

Judge Bedi recorded that he had heard both sides at “considerable length” and put up the case for orders at 4.45 p.m.

However, at 6 p.m., the judge said his court had to go through a rather “heavy board” of bail applications and thus could not pass orders in the case. The judge went on to post the case for orders on Thursday at 11 a.m.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is likely to mention the appeal against the bail order in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The police, in its appeal in the Supreme Court, claimed the High Court had lost sight of the evidence in the case. It was “not a simple protest by students”. There was “evidence of terrorist activity”. Seeking an immediate stay of the HC order, the police said it would otherwise affect all other cases registered by the National Investigation Agency under the UAPA.

In fact, the High Court had made particularly sharp observations in its June 15 order, accusing the government of blurring the line between rightful dissent and terrorism.

The police had arrested Jawaharlal Nehru University students and Pinjra Tod members Ms. Narwal and Ms. Kalita last year. Mr. Tanha, a Jamia Millia Islamia University student, was also taken into custody about the same time in May 2020.

They were booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with the Delhi riots that broke out last year after protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) turned violent.

Ms. Narwal was recently given parole to perform the last rites of her father, who succumbed to COVID-19 during a devastating the second wave.

“It appears that in its anxiety to suppress dissent and in the morbid fear that matters may get out of hand, the State has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity’,” a Bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup J. Bhambhani had said in a scathing order on June 15.

Democracy would be in peril if the lines were smudged, the High Court had said.

The phrase “terrorist act” could not be permitted to be applied in a cavalier manner to conventional offences, the High Court said.

“Having given our anxious consideration to this aspect of ‘likelihood’ of threat and terror, we are of the view that the foundations of our nation stand on surer footing than to be likely shaken by a protest, however vicious, organised by a tribe of college students or other persons, operating as a coordination committee from the confines of a University situated in the heart of Delhi,” the High Court had observed.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 5:32:28 AM |

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