The Delhi Police has approached the Supreme Court against a Delhi High Court’s order granting bail to activists of women’s rights group Pinjra Tod, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, and Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha. The trio were booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in connection with the Delhi riots and arrested in May 2020.
Following the high court’s verdict in which it lashed out at the Centre for frivolous invocation of UAPA, the Delhi Police in a statement said that it was “not satisfied” with the interpretation of the provisions of the UAPA by the high court in a matter concerned with grant of bail. The statement added that the Delhi Police will approach the Supreme Court against the high court’s order.
The high court, while granting bail to the activists, remarked that the foundation of the country cannot be shaken by a protest organised by a tribe of college students.
“We are of the view that the foundations of our nation stand on surer footing than to be likely to be 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 situate in the heart of Delhi,” the court said.
HC criticises Centre over UAPA invocation
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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