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Delhi court orders immediate release of 3 activists granted bail by HC

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A court in Delhi on Thursday ordered the immediate release of three activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha who were granted bail by the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, but were not released from jail. The trio was arrested in May last year in connection with the Delhi riots case and charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Sessions judge Ravinder Bedi noted that the high court has already passed the bail order and release warrants had been sent to Tihar Jail. On Wednesday, Justice Bedi had dismissed Delhi Police’s plea asking for three more days to complete the verification of addresses and sureties furnished by the accused. Following the court’s order, the accused are likely to be released at around 5 pm.

Accused also approached HC

Hours before the sessions court order, the three activists approached the high court alleging deliberate delay on the part of the authorities in releasing them. In a brief hearing a displeased high court questioned the delays – it demanded to know why verification of Aadhaar numbers was needed and if the police were, in fact, following due process.

Delhi Police approaches SC

The Delhi Police has already approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s order. The police are reportedly unhappy with the strong remarks made by the high court regarding the frivolous invocation of the UAPA while granting bail to the activists.

What the HC said

A division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said, “It seems that 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. If this mindset gains traction, it would be a sad day for democracy.”

The bench also said, “In our opinion, the intent and purport of the Parliament in enacting the UAPA, and more specifically in amending it in 2004 and 2008 to bring terrorist activity within its scope, was, and could only have had been, to deal with matters of profound impact on the ‘Defence of India’, nothing more and nothing less.. It was neither the intent nor purport of enacting UAPA that other offences of the usual and ordinary kind, however grave, egregious or heinous in their nature and extent, should also be covered by UAPA.”

 

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