On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court allowed a bail plea filed by Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita, in a case related to the Delhi riots filed against her.
The bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar allowed the bail plea, subject to Devangana furnishing a personal bond of Rs. 25,000 with one surety of a like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court, if not required in any other case.
Devangana is an accused in as many as four FIRs pertaining to the anti-CAA protests and Delhi Riots. Nonetheless, the present bail plea was moved in FIR No. 50/2020 registered at PS Jafrabad for Delhi Riots.
During the hearing, Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Devangana argued that neither was there any evidence to show his client’s participation in rioting or violence nor was she featured in any of the CCTV footage collected by the Delhi Police. He further contended that Devangana was only protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and stated that her name was also not taken by the co-accused, Shahrukh, in his statement.
However, the Delhi Police maintained that the demonstrations in which Devangana participated, and the violence, was part of the ‘conspiracy to lower the country’s image’ when President of the United States Donald Trump was visiting India.
After considering the submissions made by the parties, charge sheet filed in the FIR and the case diary, the Court said that the purpose of incarceration during the trial was not punitive and was to be limited to cases where it is absolutely essential.
“No prejudice would be caused to the Respondent’s investigation by the grant of relief to the petitioner, and she would be prevented from suffering further unnecessary harassment, humiliation, and unjustified detention. Moreover, persons similarly placed as the petitioner, as per documents placed on record by the investigating agency, have not been arrested by the investigating agency in the subject FIR, and as such, the continued custody of the petitioner in the subject FIR would serve no purpose,” stated the bench while opining that Devangana has satisfied the triple test for releasing a person on bail.
“Though her presence is seen in peaceful agitation, which is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India, however, (Delhi Police) failed to produce any material that she in her speech instigated women of particular community or gave hatred speech due to which precious life of a young man has been sacrificed and property damaged. There is no such evidence which establishes that the alleged offense has taken place on the act done by the petitioner, except statements recorded under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure much belatedly, though, those witnesses were allegedly remain present at the spot throughout,” added the court.