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Citing 'Heavy Board', Delhi Court Defers Orders On Release Of Student Activists In Riots Case To Tomorrow 11 AM

Nupur Thapliyal
16 Jun 2021 2:49 PM GMT
Citing Heavy Board, Delhi Court Defers Orders On Release Of Student Activists In Riots Case To Tomorrow 11 AM
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A Delhi Court will tomorrow pronounce at 11 AM orders on the release of student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha after they were granted bail by the Delhi High Court yesterday in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Bedi of Karkardooma Courts had reserved the orders today after hearing Advocate Adit S Pujari appearing on behalf of...

A Delhi Court will tomorrow pronounce at 11 AM orders on the release of student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha after they were granted bail by the Delhi High Court yesterday in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.

Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Bedi of Karkardooma Courts had reserved the orders today after hearing Advocate Adit S Pujari appearing on behalf of the Applicants.

"Order could not be passed due to heavy board of bail applications listed before the undersigned. Be put up for orders tomorrow at 11 AM." The Court ordered.

The development came after the Delhi Police had moved an application seeking some more time in conducting the verification of their addresses and also the Aadhar verification of their sureties.

The Delhi Police has stated that the outstation permanant addresses of student activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha need to be verified for the purpose of their release pursuant to the Delhi High Court orders granting them bail yesterday in the Delhi Riots larger conspiracy case.

"The "outstation permanent address" verification of all accused persons is pending and could not be completed due to paucity of time", the Delhi Police said in the application filed before the Court.

While seeking time to file the verification report in the matter, Delhi Police has said that since Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devanaga Kalita are permanent residents of Jharkhand, Assam and Rohtak, time will be required by the investigating agency in filing the aforesaid verification report in the matter.

Apart from this, the Delhi Police also seeks directions to the UIDAI to verify the Aadhar card details of the sureties. 

In view of this, the Delhi Police has stated that for verification of the surety, mere phone number is not sufficient and thus, physical verification was required. 

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.

Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal's release from the judicial custody could not be effected yesterday for want of the verification of their addresses and sureties.

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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