A court in Delhi on Thursday granted protection from arrest till March 9 to activist Shantanu Muluk in the case related to his alleged role in the creation of an online document intended to help amplify farmer protests, Bar and Bench reported.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana granted him relief after the Delhi Police said it needed time to conduct further interrogation before filing a detailed reply to Muluk’s anticipatory bail plea. The activist had moved the Patiala House Court seeking protection from arrest on February 23.
During the hearing, Assistant Public Prosecutor Irfan Ahmed told the court that the police needed seven more days to file their response. “We need to confront him,” Ahmed said. “There are contradictory replies. We will file a detailed reply.”
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Muluk, said she had no objections with that, and urged the court to extend the activist’s interim protection in the meantime. To this, the public prosecutor responded, “I have instructions to say that there will be no coercive action.”
The court then recorded Ahmed’s statement, and adjourned the matter till March 9. “Meanwhile no coercive action be taken against Shantanu Muluk,” the judge said.
He joined the investigation on Monday, along with co-accused advocate Nikita Jacob. They were questioned at the Delhi Police Cyber Cell office in Dwarka. Jacob has also been granted transit anticipatory bail.
The non-bailable warrants against Jacob and Muluk were issued after 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi was arrested in Bengaluru on February 13 for allegedly editing and circulating the document that authorities say is anti-government. The “toolkit” – a common term used by social activists for campaign material – first tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in support of India’s protesting farmers on February 4.
The Delhi Police claimed that Muluk, Jacob and Ravi, had attended a Zoom call along with an organisation in Canada, the Poetic Justice Foundation, to chalk out the modalities related to the farmer protests against the new agricultural laws. The organisation is an advocacy group that often raises questions connected with human rights. However, the police claim it is promoting Khalistanism or Sikh separatism, a charge that the group denies.
On February 23, a court in Delhi granted bail to Ravi after observing that the evidence against her was scanty and sketchy. It added that there were no palpable reasons to breach the rule of bail for a 22-year-old girl who has absolutely no criminal antecedents.