Delhi violence: Former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan gets bail in UAPA case
Jahan had been in custody since February 2020, when she was arrested while protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act case pertaining to the riots that took place in the national Capital in 2020, Bar and Bench reported.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat granted bail to Jahan, who has been in custody since February 26, 2020.
The police had filed two cases against the former Congress councillor. In the first case, the police had accused her of convincing a crowd to stay at an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest site in Delhi. Jahan was granted bail in that case on March 21, 2020.
However, she was arrested later on the same day in a case pertaining to the 2020 North East Delhi riots, in which the police had invoked the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, among other legal provisions.
The court on Monday noted that as per the police’s chargesheet, Jahan was not the one who had allegedly floated the idea of a chakka jam, or blockade, ahead of the violence. The court also noted that she was not a member of the WhatsApp groups used for the alleged conspiracy, nor was she a member of the organisations that were allegedly involved in planning the violence.
The order further noted that while Jahan was involved in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Delhi’s Khureji Khas, the area is not in North East Delhi, where the violence took place.
The judge said that the police alleged that Jahan had been in touch with other accused persons in the case. “Even if it is accepted that she had connectivity with the other accused persons, yet the fact remains that she was not physically present in North-East Delhi...” Judge Rawat observed.
“Moreover, it is not the case of the prosecution that she was giving directions to other accused persons...” the court added.
Communal violence had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.
Police claim that the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. They have also alleged that it was planned by those who organised the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at several places across Delhi.
On Monday, Jahan’s lawyer Pradeep Teotia said that there are no more pending cases against her, and so, the court order has cleared the way for her release from jail, The Indian Express reported.
He also asked the prosecution to prove that it was right to invoke Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act sections against Jahan.
In December 2020, she had told a court in Delhi that she was assaulted multiple times in the city’s Mandoli jail and had been harassed repeatedly by other inmates.
Judge Rawat had then noted that the former Congress councillor was in a state of “utter fear”, and had directed prison authorities to take immediate steps to provide security to her.
‘Beyond ecstatic’, says family
Reacting to the verdict on Monday, Jahan’s husband Farhan Hashmi said that he cannot contain his happiness. “I cannot believe it,” he told Scroll.in. “I was in court and heard it myself.”
Sarwer Jahan, Ishrat Jahan’s sister and lawyer, said that she is “beyond ecstatic”, and added that this was a battle that they won legally. “She has been courageous all through this phase and I cannot wait to hug her now,” Sarwer said. “ [This is] the biggest and happiest news for my family in the last two years.”
She added that she always had utmost trust that the judiciary would see good sense and reason and grant her bail.
Lawyer Pradeep Teotia said he was “truly overwhelmed” by the verdict. “This verdict shows we have an honest judicial system – a judicial system that does not discriminate,” he said. “We have waited for this for over a year. Ishrat deserves this bail.”
Advocates Gaurav Dalal, Jitender Bakshi and Harmeet Singh assisted Teotia in the case.
Jahan is expected to be released after bail formalities are completed by Tuesday.