A Delhi Court has refused to grant bail to ex-Congress municipal counselor Ishrat Jahan, who was arrested in connection with protests carried out in the northeast districts of New Delhi.
ASJ Naveen Gupta at Karkardooma Court has rejected the bail application of the said accused by noting that:
'When the protectors of law are targeted in the manner as reflected in present FIR and that too, in the gaze of general public, such actions lower the public confidence in the ability of police officers to do their duty.'
The accused was arrested from the Anti-CAA protests that were being carried out in the Jagat Puri area, where section 144 of the CrPC was in operation.
As per the Prosecution's narrative, police had rushed to the said area after hearing certain gunshots. There they found that a crowd was protesting against CAA. Consequently, the police asked the crowd to disperse. The following was informed to the court:
'The crowd was also instigated to sit down there. SHO announced the crowd as unlawful assembly and again asked the people to disperse, but the persons named in the FIR including applicant/accused did not allow the crowd to remove themselves. The applicant/accused Ishrat Jahan instigated the crowd by saying that they would not remove themselves even if, they die or whatever police officials do, they want freedom (azaadi)'
It was further informed that the crowd, upon instigation by one of the accused, started pelting stones at police. Meanwhile, the police tried to handle the situation with appropriate force. Moreover, one of the police officers also received injury due to the said stone pelting.
When the situation became out of control, as per prosecutor's narrative, the police used tear gas shells and fired in the air. Some persons from the
crowd started manhandling with police staff.
On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the accused had argued that there was peaceful protest against CAA for last 49 days and no complaint of any criminal activity had been moved against the protesters.
It was further submitted that the applicant/accused is an Advocate by profession and Ex-Councillor associated with Congress Party, that is why, she was falsely implicated in the present case out of political vendetta.
The counsel for the accused also argued that the
police officials who were part of the flag march did not record the entire alleged incident by videography. Moreover, the police officials themselves damaged the CCTV cameras installed in the area.
The Prosecutor countered the defence's argument on non-availability of the CCTV footage, by submitting that despite the absence of the video evidence, the accused has not challenged the fact that the police was patrolling the area by conducting a flag march.
Moreover, the Prosecutor cited the criminal antecedents of the accused to submit that there is high chance of tampering with the evidence and threatening of witnesses by her, in case she is admitted to bail at a preliminary stage of investigation.
While addressing arguments made by both the sides, the court observed that: 'There is no doubt that a peaceful protest is an essential right in a vibrant democracy as of ours, but this right is subject to certain exceptions provided under the Constitution of India.'
It further noted that as per facts and circumstances depicted in the FIR and the investigation conducted so far show that members of assembly had been armed with pistol. They had pelted stones. The instigation was caused by the named persons who were members of the assembly.
Therefore, a prima facie conclusion can be made that the accused was a part of an assembly which had subsequently become unlawful.
Since, the charges against the accused are serious in nature, the court refused to grant her bail by highlighting that: 'The above observations have been made not to give any opinion on the merits of the case, but just to decide the point of bail at this stage.'
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