By LE Desk
New Delhi, June 15, 2021: The Delhi High Court today granted regular bail to Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, along with Jamia Milia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, arrested more than a year ago in connection with the northeast Delhi riots cases.
“It seems that in its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between 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,” the court noted while granting bail to the three activists who were involved in protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), reported NDTV.
“We have allowed all three appeals. We have set aside all three impugned orders [of the trial court]. We have admitted all three appellants [Kalita, Narwal and Tanha] to regular bail,” a Bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani said. The court allowed bail on a personal bond and sureties of ₹ 50,000 each.
The Bench directed all three to ordinarily reside in their respective place of records and also inform the investigating officer if there was any change in residence. The court also directed all three to surrender their passport, if they had one, and not to tamper with evidence or influence the witnesses in the case, The Hindu reported.
They are facing charges under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in relation to the riots. They had challenged a trial court’s order dismissing their bail pleas before the High Court.
Narwal was arrested on May 23 last year, along with fellow Jawaharlal Nehru University student Ms. Kalita in relation with an FIR registered on February 24 over the sit-in protest at Jafrabad Metro Station against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The Crime Branch has lodged a separate FIR against both Narwal and Kalita in connection with the Delhi riots with charges ranging from Section 147 (rioting), 353 (using criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 307 (attempt to murder), 302 (murder) among others.
The Delhi Police had opposed their bail plea claiming that they were part of a larger conspiracy to threaten the unity, integrity and harmony of the country.
Tanha was arrested in May last year for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the riots. He has challenged a trial court’s October 26, 2020, order dismissing his bail application.