Supreme Court refuses to agree to Delhi Police: Asif, Devangana and Natasha to remain out of jail
Supreme Court agreed to examine the legal aspects of the Delhi High Court verdict but refuses to stay HC order granting bail to 3 students in Delhi riots case
Supreme Court: “The issue is important. It has pan India ramifications and so we would like to issue notice and decide the matter for the good of the country"
Asif, Devangana and Natasha to remain out of jail
The Supreme Court, today said, it would not interfere with a Delhi High Court’s order granting bail to student-activists charged under the anti-terror law UAPA. Asif Iqbal Tanha, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, accused of conspiracy over the Delhi riots can remain outside jail following the verdict.
This decision of the two-member Supreme Court bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian has come as a blow to Delhi Police.
Only because this case could have "pan-India ramifications" due to the manner UAPA, or the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, had been interpreted the Supreme Court will examine the bail order later next month. In the meantime, Supreme Court has issued notice that this case be not used as precedent for other cases.
Mr Tanha, Ms Kalita and Ms Narwal had walked out of Jail last night, two days after the Delhi High Court had granted bail, drawing a distinction between the "right to protest" and terrorist activity. Delhi Police was opposed to their release saying that the High Court, in permitting bail, had "conducted a mini-trial... (and) recorded perverse findings which are contrary to the record".
Delhi Police, in today’s hearing asked the Supreme Court to "stay the order because (it) virtually records the acquittal of the accused" and others would seek bail using this as precedent. It pleaded, "(Delhi) High Court watered down UAPA (and) it had been turned upside down."
The two-member bench acknowledged that discussing all laws in a bail hearing was "something very surprising", and said: "We agree. There are many questions that arise. The issue is important and can have pan-India ramifications. We would like to issue notice and hear the other side." "They (the activists) will not be affected, but we will stay the effect of the High Court order," it added.
Delhi Police was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta while Senior advocate Kapil Sibal was appearing for the activists.
In the judgment on Tuesday for Mr Tanha, the High Court had said: "The phrase ‘terrorist act' cannot be permitted to be casually applied to criminal acts that fall squarely within definition of conventional offences under IPC."
For Ms Kalita and Ms Narwal, the Court said: "In its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be getting somewhat blurred."
The court had also said there was a "complete lack of any specific, factual allegations.... other than those spun by mere grandiloquence" and "(such serious sections) must be applied in a just and fair way, lest it unjustly ropes within its ambit persons whom the Legislature never intended to punish".
The three activists, Asif Tanha, 25, Devangana Kalita, 31, and Natasha Narwal, 32, were arrested in May last year.
Mr Tanha is a BA student at Jamia Millia Islamia while Ms Kalita and Ms Narwal are PhD students at the Department of Women's Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Widespread Violence had broken out in NE Delhi in February last year following tensions between supporters of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and those protesting against it. Over 50 people died and around 200 were injured in the violence that followed.
Leaders of BJP and their supporters, whom most eyewitnesses have claimed to be instigators or those who indulged in the riots, are yet to be booked under any sections of the law. Many eyewitnesses claim the violence was a handiwork of those with right wing political entities but Delhi Police has always been on the prowl of those who have a secular point of view.
Delhi Police have accused Mr Tanha, Ms Kalita and Ms Narwal of being the "masterminds" of these riots.