A court in Delhi on Monday granted bail to actor-activist Deep Sidhu in a case related to the violence at the Red Fort during the farmers’ tractor rally on January 26, Bar and Bench reported. The protests were against the central government’s three new farm laws.
Two first information reports were filed against Sidhu in relation to the violence that broke out on Republic Day. In one FIR, he was granted bail on April 17, but was re-arrested within hours because of the second complaint against him. The second FIR was filed on the basis of a complaint filed by the Archaeological Survey of India for causing damage to the Red Fort.
On April 19, the court had rejected the Delhi Police’s plea seeking Sidhu’s four-day custody and sent him to judicial remand instead.
In his bail petition, Sidhu’s counsel argued that both the FIRs against him listed identical offences and so he should be granted relief as was done in the first case, Bar and Bench reported. He also submitted that Sidhu’s arrest in the second case was arbitrary and malafide as it was carried out hours after he received bail in the first case.
The Delhi Police, on the other hand, said that Sidhu had not moved the High Court seeking to quash the second FIR and thus it was their prerogative to arrest him and investigate the matter.
However, Additional Sessions Judge Neelofer Abida Perveen said that further custody of Sidhu “would bear no fruit”, Live Law reported.
“The accused has already been interrogated in police custody for 14 days and has been in custody for about 70 days when he has been granted regular bail on similar facts,” Perveen said in her order. “Any further restraint upon his liberty would be neither logical nor legal.”
The judge rejected the Delhi Police’s submission that they had to arrest Sidhu for the second time for a fresh investigation. “Such vicious and sinister action of investigative authorities amounts to playing fraud with established criminal process and shows scant regard to constitutional protections enshrined, protected and cherished under the Constitution on India,” Perveen said in her order, according to The Indian Express.
Republic Day violence
At least one protestor was killed and over 300 police officers were injured after a section of farmers agitating against the contentious new agriculture laws, took to the streets of Delhi on Republic Day on tractors, horses and on foot to call for the repeal of the legislations. Protestors broke through barricades and poured into the city, clashing with police personnel that tried to push them back with tear gas and batons.
One group of protestors forced their way into the Red Fort. A few protestors also climbed a flagstaff and hoisted the Nishan Sahib, a religious flag that flies atop gurudwaras.
The Delhi Police registered a criminal case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and invoked sedition charges in connection with the violence at Red Fort.
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the Centre repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies.
They have hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met. In January, the Supreme Court had suspended the implementation of the farm laws until further orders.