SC to hear Delhi Police plea against activists' bail tomorrow
The Supreme Court of India will tomorrow hear an appeal filed by the Delhi Police against a bail order for three student activists, arrested in connection with last year's riots in the national capital. The matter will be heard by a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian, Bar and Bench reported. The Delhi High Court had, on Tuesday, granted bail to them.
The three activists - Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, and Asif Iqbal Tanha - were arrested last May over their alleged links to the riots and have since spent over a year in jail. On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court ordered their release by 1 pm on Wednesday, however, the Delhi Police subsequently filed petitions against the order in a trial court and Supreme Court.
However, the petition in the trial court was rejected earlier in the day. Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Bedi noted the High Court had already passed the bail order and hence the accused should be immediately released, reported NDTV.
In the court, the Delhi Police contended they needed more time to verify the addresses and sureties submitted by the accused before allowing their release. The activists' lawyer, however, said verification couldn't take so long. "Verification is the work of the police. Our work is to submit the bail bond...We have done our work. Can't be in jail because police haven't done their work."
This morning, the activists also moved the Delhi High Court, seeking immediate release on the basis of that court's order. They said in their petition the Delhi Police's reasons for delay were a "flimsy pretext." The High Court then expressed displeasure over the matter and demanded to know if the police was even following due procedure, reports say.
On Tuesday, while ordering bail for the activists, the Delhi High Court made scathing observations about police probe in the case and the government. It highlighted there was a difference between the "constitutionally guaranteed right to protest" and terrorist activity. "If this mindset gains traction, it would be a sad day for democracy," a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and AJ Bhambhani had said.
Kalita and Narwal are both members of Pinjra Tod, a women's rights group based in Delhi. They were arrested on conspiracy charges linked to the riots. Tanha is a student of the Jamia Millia Islamia university in Delhi. Others who were arrested in connection with the riots include activist Umar Khalid and former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam.
In February 2020, violence broke out between supporters of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act and those opposing the law. More than 50 people died and hundreds were injured in the clashes, the worst to rock the Indian capital since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The Indian Parliament had passed the citizenship law in 2019 amid widespread protests against it across the country.