The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday granted bail to labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur in a third case lodged against her, Bar and Bench reported. She walked out of jail later in the day.
Kaur, a member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, was arrested on January 12 for mobilising workers near the Singhu border, the epicentre of the farmer protest against the three new agricultural laws. The Dalit activist and her colleagues staged a demonstration in the Kundli industrial area, near Singhu, outside a factory that had not paid its workers their wages.
Friday’s hearing was taken up by Justice Avneesh Jinghan, who was hearing Kaur’s bail plea as well as a suo motu case taken up by the High Court regarding the activist’s alleged illegal confinement, reported Live Law. The arguments were, however, only limited to the bail and the suo motu case will be heard later.
Senior Advocate RS Cheema contended that Kaur is not a flight risk. He also cited the principle of “bail is rule, jail is exception” before the court. The judge granted bail upon a prima facie observation that there was nothing to substantiate the allegations of attempt to murder levelled against Kaur, among other reasons, reported Bar and Bench.
The court also sought to examine if her allegations of custodial torture were true. Judge Jinghan had earlier asked for her medical records. After the hearing, Kaur’s lawyer Harinder Deep Singh Bains said that the court will look at the medical records at a different date, reported NDTV.
“It [the bail] is with a restraint that no law and order situation be created,” Bains said. “That is the only restriction.”
Currently lodged in a jail in Haryana, Kaur was facing three separate cases that included charges of attempt to murder and extortion. She was granted bail in the first two cases on February 12 and February 15, respectively.
In her third bail plea, Kaur had alleged that she was severely beaten and tortured in police custody. The activist stated that she was “targeted and falsely implicated” because she had been successful in generating support for the farmers’ movement against the Centre’s new agricultural laws.
The plea alleged that the mobilisation of local labourers in support of farmers “annoyed the administration”, which then devised a plan to stifle the demonstrations that have persisted for over two months.
The plea said that Kaur was taken to the police station in the absence of any woman police personnel, and was beaten up by police officials. Kaur also alleged that her medical examination was not conducted in violation of Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Earlier this month, Kaur’s family had alleged that she was sexually assaulted by the police. However, the police have refuted it.
The arrest and the alleged torture of Kaur had gained attention after Meena Harris, the niece of United States Vice President Kamala Harris, tweeted about her. “Weird to see a photo of yourself burned by an extremist mob but imagine what they would do if we lived in India,” Meena Harris had tweeted. “I’ll tell you – 23 year labor rights activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested, tortured and sexually assaulted in police custody. She’s been detained without bail for over 20 days.”