The Supreme Court has granted bail to 22 Anti-CAA protesters booked by the Mangalore police.
On 6th March 2020, the Supreme Court had stayed the 17th February order of Karnataka High Court granting bail to these persons booked by the police on allegations of violence and attack on police during anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru on December 19, 2019.
The bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, after hearing the interim bail applications filed before it, observed:
"Having regard to the observation of the High Court that it was not possible to prima facie determine the presence of the accused persons at the spot and without treating the said observation as final finding of the fact, we consider it appropriate to direct that the applicants be released on bail on furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs.25,000/- each to the 2 satisfaction of the trial court pending trial on the following conditions : (a) That the applicants shall report to the nearest police station on every alternative Monday; (b) That they shall ensure that they do not participate in any violent activities/meetings."
The Court said that the observations of the High Court on question of fact and law are obviously made prima facie and shall not affect the trial.
Karnataka HC Bail Order
The Karnataka High Court, while granting bail to these protesters, had also directed registration of FIRs against police officials on the prima facie finding that they had used violence. "The records indicate that deliberate attempt has been made to trump-up evidence and to deprive the liberties of petitioners by fabricating evidence. It is not disputed that none of the petitioners have any criminal antecedents. The allegations levelled against the petitioners are not punishable with death or imprisonment for life. There is no direct evidence to connect the petitioners with the alleged offences. Investigation appears to be mala fide and partisan. In the said circumstances, in order to protect the rights and liberties of the petitioners, it is necessary to admit them to bail," the high court had said in its order dated February 17.
Justice John Michael Cunha had also commented on the evidence placed on record the high court had said that it was in fact the police authorities that appeared to be pelting stones on the Petitioners and not vice versa. "The material collected by the Investigating Agency does not contain any specific evidence as to the presence of any one of the petitioners at the spot; on the other hand, omnibus allegations are made against the Muslim crowd of 1500 – 2000, alleging that they were armed with weapons like stones, soda bottles and glass pieces. The photographs produced by learned SPP-I depict that hardly any member of the crowd were armed with weapons except one of them holding a bottle. In none of these photographs, police station or policemen are seen in the vicinity. On the other hand, photographs produced by the petitioners disclose that the policemen themselves were pelting stones on the crowd," the judge had remarked.
The State had thus approached the Apex Court impugning this order by the High Court.