'In its anxiety to suppress dissent': HC grants bail to JNU, Jamia student activists arrested in Delhi Riots case
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday (June 15) granted bail to student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, and Asif Iqbal Tanha. The three were arrested following the February 2020 northeast Delhi riots. They were accused of being the main conspirators of the riots and a case was filed against them under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The bail was granted by a Division Bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and A J Bhambhani. “We are constrained to express, that it seems, that in its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be getting somewhat blurred. If this mindset gains traction, it would be a sad day for democracy,” said the bench while granting bail.
While granting bail to Tanha, the court said, "Foisting extremely grave and serious penal provisions engrafted in sections 15, 17 and 18 of the UAPA frivolously upon people, would undermine the intent and purpose of the Parliament in enacting a law that is meant to address threats to the very existence of our Nation. The wanton use of serious penal provisions would only trivialise them."
The High Court has granted bail to the three accused subject to furnishing Rs 50,000 personal bonds with two local sureties each. It has directed them to provide their cell phone number to the local SHO and reside in their place of residence as mentioned in their prison records or inform the SHO in case of a change of residence.
Further, the three accused are instructed not to make contact with any of the prosecution witnesses in the case or tamper with the evidence. They have also been ordered not to indulge in any unlawful activities while out on bail.
Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 last year after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters went out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured. Narwal, Kalita, and Tanha were arrested in May 2020 for allegedly being part of a premeditated conspiracy behind the communal violence that broke out during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Natasha Narwal lost her father-Mahavir Narwal-in May due to COVID-19 while she was still in prison. She was granted bail to perform his last rites. Tanha also was recently granted a two-week interim custody bail to attend his backlog examinations at the university.
(With IANS, PTI Inputs)
Posted By: Talibuddin Khan