Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava on Tuesday denied that there were any lapses in the arrest of 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, reported ANI.
“As far as Disha’s arrest is concerned, it was done as per the procedures,” he said, while speaking to reporters. “Law does not differentiate between a 22-year-old and a 50-year-old. She was produced before a court which sent her to five-day police custody. It is false when people say that there were lapses in the arrest.”
Ravi was arrested on Saturday from her Bengaluru residence by the crime branch of Delhi Police for sharing and editing a document intended to help the farmers’ protest against the new agricultural laws. The “toolkit” – a common term used by social activists for campaign material – was tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in support of India’s protesting farmers on February 4.
Earlier this month, the police, while filing the first information report in the case, said the “toolkit” was aimed at waging a “social, cultural and economic war against the government of India” and creating divisions among various groups in Indian society. Ravi is the first person to be arrested in the case.
Questions on police action
Despite Shrivastava’s assertion on the arrest, a number of questions exist on the possible procedural lapses that might have occurred in the manner the Delhi Police carried it out.
Several media reports said Ravi was brought to Delhi from Bengaluru without her parents being informed. It further said that she was brought to the national Capital without being presented before a court in Bengaluru for a transit remand, and was thereafter presented in a Delhi court without a lawyer of her choice. On Tuesday, the Delhi Commission for Women took suo motu cognisance of the matter and sought response from the police.
In a 2019 order, the Delhi High Court had mentioned: “Endeavor should be made to obtain transit remand after producing the arrestee before the nearest Magistrate unless exigencies of the situation warrant otherwise.”
The failure to do so in this case, denied Ravi of her “first line of defence”, a report by The Quint stated, adding that the Delhi Police only informed the activist’s lawyers about her arrest. The report said that this was not akin to letting Ravi “consult” with her lawyer.
In a discussion show on NDTV on Monday, Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra also pointed out that procedural aspects like whether the Delhi Police had a warrant to arrest Ravi and whether she had access to lawyers need to be scrutinised in the matter. In the same show, former Supreme Court judge Deepak Gupta criticised the court’s decision to send Ravi to judicial custody. “At this stage, they [judges] don’t even read the documents...They just see what the police asks them,” he said.
Delhi Police write to Zoom app
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police has also written to video conferencing platform Zoom seeking details of those who participated in an online meeting on January 11, PTI reported. On Monday, the police had claimed that Ravi, and two other people Nikita Jacob and Shantanu had attended a Zoom call with a “pro-Khalistani” organisation in Canada called the Poetic Justice Foundation.
The police also issued non-bailable warrants against Jacob and Shantanu in relation to the case on Monday. They alleged that Mumbai-based lawyer Jacob and Pune-based engineer Shantanu were among the around 70 people who had attended the meeting through Zoom app, days before January 26 violence during the farmers tractor rally.
During a press briefing on Monday, Joint Commissioner of Police, Cyber Cell, Prem Nath had said that Shantanu was the owner of the document, tweeted by Thunberg, while the others were its editors.