The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita, who was arrested in May in connection with the communal violence that broke out in the city, Bar and Bench reported. The court said that the police do not have any evidence of her making instigating speech.
Kalita, will, however not be released from jail as she is under custody in another first information report filed against her under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, according to Live Law. Her bail plea was rejected in the fourth case on August 28.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait granted her bail on a personal bond of Rs 25,000. “No prejudice would be caused to the respondent’s investigation by grant of relief to the petitioner, and she would be prevented from suffering further unnecessary harassment, humiliation, and unjustified detention,” the court said. “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.”
The judge clarified that he was not commenting on the merits of the prosecution, but held that the Jawaharlal Nehru University student is entitled to bail in the current case. “I find no substance in arguments of learned ASG [Additional Solicitor General] and cases relied upon are no help in the facts and circumstances of the present case,” he added.
The court also read the inner case diary that it was given in a sealed cover.
“Though her presence is seen in peaceful agitation, which is 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 offence has taken place on the act done by the petitioner, except statements recorded under Section 164 Code of Criminal Procedure much belatedly, though, those witnesses were allegedly remain present at the spot throughout,” the court said.
On August 21, Kait, while hearing arguments on Kalita’s bail plea, asked police for the evidence. “Show me any portion of the speech recorded by the media or anyone else which showed that Kalita instigated the mob to commit the crime,” he had said. “During that period, the media was everywhere and recording everything. I want to know what she said which instigated the mob.”
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the police, told the court that reporters were not present when the incident took place on February 25 and they do not have videos of the speeches made by Kalita. Raju claimed that witness accounts showed Kalita’s role in instigating the mob. The law officer opposed Kalita’s bail plea, arguing that the violence was well-planned and organised to damage the country’s image. Raju stated that it was a case where a large number of persons were involved and it was not possible to present video evidence.
Kalita and another Pinjra Tod member Natasha Narwal were arrested on May 23 in connection with a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in North East Delhi’s Jafrabad area in February. A day later, they were granted bail in the matter by a court in Delhi. Immediately after the court’s order, the Delhi Police moved an application to interrogate the two activists and arrested them in a separate case related to the violence.
They were charged with attempt to murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy. Narwal and Kalita have also been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the violence.