The Bombay High Court on Wednesday gave transit anticipatory bail to Goa-based activist Shubham Chandhuri for his alleged role in the creation of an online document intended to help amplify farmer protests, Live Law reported. Chandhuri was asked to furnish a bond of Rs 50,000 with one or more sureties in like amount.
A single bench of Justice MS Jawalkar granted the protection to Chandhuri after observing that the reasons for apprehension for arrest was justified. He said the bail would enable the activist to approach the competent court for seeking appropriate reliefs.
A transit anticipatory bail is sought when a case against a person has been or is likely to be filed in a state different from the one in which he or she is likely to be arrested. A transit bail gives an accused protection from arrest, so they can approach the appropriate court in the state in which the case has been filed.
“Admittedly, FIR is lodged at New Delhi and any regular application for anticipatory bail under Section 438 of Code of Criminal Procedure would be considered by the competent court at Delhi,” the judge said. “Therefore, the applicant is entitled for protection by way of granting transit bail to approach the competent authority for seeking appropriate reliefs.”
Chandhuri is a member of Extinction Rebellion, a global movement against climate change. He has been charged under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting hatred amongst various communities on social/cultural/religious grounds) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
Others accused in the case are advocate Nikita Jacob and activists Disha Ravi and Shantanu Muluk.
The first information report was lodged by the Delhi Police to investigate the “formulation and dissemination” of a protest document, which the authorities are calling a “toolkit”, and was first tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in support of India’s protesting farmers on February 4. The police said the document spread misinformation about the protests and “tarnished the image of India”.
In his bail plea, Chandhuri had relied on the Bombay High Court order granting 10 days of transit anticipatory bail to Muluk, which has now been extended by a Delhi court. Similarly, he cited the three weeks of protection from arrest granted to Jacob, and also the relief granted to Ravi by Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana on February 23.
Advocate Ryan da Piedade Menezes, appearing for Chandhuri, submitted that his client was “falsely implicated” in the case, and that he has no connection with the document, or any of the offences made out in the FIR. He contended that it was Jacob, Muluk and Ravi, who allegedly conspired to create the online “toolkit”, denying that Chandhuri had any role in its creation.
The plea added that Chandhuri had volunteered for Extinction Rebellion and is presently its South Asia Liaison. Muluk and Jacob have also been volunteers, it said.