Delhi Police moves SC against HC order in granting bail to student activists

New Delhi: Delhi Police has approached the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court Judgments granting Bail to Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal And Asif Iqbal Tanha in the Delhi Riots Case.

The Delhi High Court in its judgments dated 15th June found that offenses under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) are not made out prima facie against student leaders Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.

In the three separate orders delivered allowing the bail applications of Tanha, Narwal and Kalita, the High Court has undertaken a factual examination of the allegations to ascertain if a prima facie case is made out against them for the purposes of Section 43D(5) of UAPA. Also, there are important and significant observations made by the High Court relating to the fundamental right to protest and the frivolous use of UAPA to stifle citizens’ dissent.

The Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet against them alleging that the protests organized by them against the Citizenship Amendment Act from December 2019 were part of a “larger conspiracy” behind the North East Delhi communal riots which took place in the last week of February 2020.

However, a High Court bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani, after a preliminary analysis of the charge sheet, observed that the allegations do not prima facie constitute the alleged UAPA offences relating to terrorist activities(Sections 15,17 and 18).

Therefore, the division bench said that the rigor of Section 43D(5) of the UAPA against the grant of bail was not attracted against the accused, and hence they were entitled to grant of bail under the ordinary principles under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“Since we are of the view that no offence under sections 15, 17 or 18 UAPA is made out against the appellant on a prima facie appreciation of the subject charge-sheet and the material collected and cited by the prosecution, the additional limitations and restrictions for grant of bail under section 43D(5) UAPA do not apply; and the court may therefore fall back upon the usual and ordinary considerations for bail under the Cr. P.C”

These three student leaders have spent over a period of one year in Tihar jail, even amid the two deadly waves of the COVID pandemic. The benefit of interim bail on account of the pandemic was not available to them as they were accused under the UAPA. After Natasha Narwal lost her father Mahavir Narwal to COVID last month, the High Court had granted her interim bail for three weeks to perform the funeral rites.