Representational Photo
Representational Photo
Photo: Unsplash/@bill_oxford

In a swift move on Wednesday, the Delhi Police appealed in the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court order granting bail to three student scholars arrested for their alleged role in the Delhi riots conspiracy last year, in which 53 people were killed and mover 400 wounded, accusing it of "going by the social media narrative than the evidence gathered and elaborated in the charge-sheet."
The Delhi Police has sought an immediate hearing of its appeal since the High Court ruling may otherwise affect hundreds of arrests made across the country under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967, by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Challenging the High Court decision which has raised the bar for the police to book an individual for terrorism under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, (UAPA)1967, the appeal says the High Court "has not only conducted a mini-trial but has also recorded perverse findings which are contrary to the arguments made during the hearing of the case.’’

"Unfortunately, contrary to the evidence on record and the detailed oral and written submission made, the High Court has decided the case in hand on a pre-conceived and a completely erroneous illusion, as if, the present case was a simply a case of protest by students," the appeal argued.

The police have further alleged the High Court had "completely lost sight of the evidence and statements and it had also discarded the evidence, which clearly made out a sinister plot of mass-scale riots being hatched by the three accused along with other co-conspirators".

Granting bail to the three accused -- Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha -- a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani had on Tuesday said: "We are constrained to express, that in its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be getting somewhat blurred. If this mindset gains traction, it would be a sad day for democracy."

Opposing this observation, the police alleged that this is an "unfounded and perverse insinuation" that the present case was registered by the government to suppress dissent.

The High Court held that provisions of the UAPA can only be applied to deal with matters of profound impact on the 'defence of India', nothing more and nothing less, but the police sought to counter it as "an irrelevant consideration to grant bail to the accused."

"Secondly, it will have far reaching consequences for cases investigated by NIA and other investigating agencies. The impugned order is thus unsustainable in law and deserves to be stayed," since its "erroneous interpretation", has watered down the provisions of UAPA which will have wide ramifications and will affect all the cases registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the provisions of UAPA.

In May 2020, Narwal, Kalita and Tanha, were arrested for their alleged role in the northeast Delhi riots conspiracy case and later, they were booked under the UAPA. While JNU students Narwal and Kalita are in Tihar Jail, Tanha, a Jamia Millia Islamia student, is out on a two-week interim custody bail so that he can take exams.

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