Gujarat Exclusive > National-World > SC upholds Delhi HC’s verdict granting bail to 3 activists in riots case

SC upholds Delhi HC’s verdict granting bail to 3 activists in riots case

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The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Delhi High Court’s verdict allowing the bail plea of activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha.

The trio was arrested in May last year in connection with the Delhi riots and charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The Delhi High Court granted them bail while making strong remarks against the frivolous invocation of UAPA.

This rattled the Delhi Police, which approached the Supreme Court challenging the bail as well as the remarks made regarding invocation of UAPA. The police in its appeal said that the high court’s verdict was based more on the social media narrative and was contrary to record.

While the Supreme Court did not disturb the bail granted to the student activists, it agreed to look into the legal aspects of the high court’s verdict while posting the next hearing of the case in July. The apex court has also clarified that the high court’s verdict could not be used as a precedent for future cases.

Court ordered immediate release

A sessions court in Delhi on Thursday ordered the Delhi Police to immediately release the activists. Notably, the high court had granted them bail on Tuesday, but the authorities were allegedly not released.  The sessions court had on Wednesday rejected the Delhi Police’s plea asking for three more days to complete the verification of addresses and sureties furnished by the accused.

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.

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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