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Delhi Court Reserves Order On Release Of Devanagana Kalita, Natasha Narwal After Police Seek Time For Address Verification

Nupur Thapliyal
16 Jun 2021 11:33 AM GMT
Delhi Court Reserves Order On Release Of Devanagana Kalita, Natasha Narwal After Police Seek Time For Address Verification
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The Court removed media persons from the virtual hearing session.

Update : Court to pass orders tomorrow (June 17) at 11 AM.A Delhi Court on Wednesday reserved orders in the plea moved by student activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal seeking their immediate release from Tihar jail after the duo was granted bail by the Delhi High Court yesterday in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.The police sought 3 days time to verify the addresses of the accused...

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Update : Court to pass orders tomorrow (June 17) at 11 AM.

A Delhi Court on Wednesday reserved orders in the plea moved by student activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal seeking their immediate release from Tihar jail after the duo was granted bail by the Delhi High Court yesterday in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.

The police sought 3 days time to verify the addresses of the accused and the sureties furnished by them.

Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Bedi of Karkardooma Court reserved the order after hearing in detail Advocate Adit S Pujari appearing on behalf of the applicants and APP Amit Prasad.

Yesterday, Court had sought a verification report yesterday after the counsel for Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal moved the Court seeking immediate release after the High Court granted them bail.

The High Court had granted bail to Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha yesterday after observing that offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) are not made out prima facie against them in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.

Their release from the judicial custody could not be effected yesterday for want of the verification of their addresses and sureties. 

During the course of hearing today, the Court abruptly removed all the media persons attending the proceedings from the virtual hearing link.

"Sorry, this is something between the Court and the accused. This can't be allowed." The Court said.



The Delhi Police had filed chargesheet against them alleging that the protests organized by them against the Citizenship Amendment Act from December 2019 were part of a "larger conspiracy" behind the North East Delhi communal riots which took place in the last week of February 2020.

"We are constrained to express, that it seems, that in its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between the 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." observed the High Court while granting bail to Natasha Narwal.

In the three separate orders delivered allowing the bail applications of Tanha, Narwal and Kalita, the High Court hasld undertaken a factual examination of the allegations to ascertain if prima facie case is made out against them for the purposes of Section 43D(5) of UAPA. 

A High Court bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani, after a preliminary analysis of the chargesheet, observed that the allegations do not prima facie constitute the alleged UAPA offences relating to terrorist activities(Sections 15,17 and 18).

Therefore, the division bench said that the rigour of Section 43D(5) of the UAPA against the grant of bail was not attracted against the accused, and hence they were entitled to grant of bail under the ordinary principles under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

"Since we are of the view that no offence under sections 15, 17 or 18 UAPA is made-out against the appellant on a prima facie appreciation of the subject charge-sheet and the material collected and cited by the prosecution, the additional limitations and restrictions for grant of bail under section 43D(5) UAPA do not apply; and the court may therefore fall back upon the usual and ordinary considerations for bail under the Cr.P.C"

These three student leaders have spent over a period of one year in Tihar jail, even amid the two deadly waves of the COVID pandemic. The benefit of interim bail on account of the pandemic was not available to them as they were accused under the UAPA. After Natasha Narwal lost her father Mahavir Narwal to COVID last month, the High Court had granted her interim bail for three weeks to perform the funeral rites.

In a related development, the Delhi Police on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court challenging the aforesaid bail orders.

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