Delhi riots: SC refuses to stay bail to activists, says need to examine HC interpretation of UAPA
The Delhi Police had moved the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court granted bail to Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, and Asif Iqbal Tanha. The Supreme Court refused to stay the Delhi High Court's order.
New Delhi: Supreme Court's two-judge vacation bench refused to stay Delhi High Court's order granting bail to Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, and Asif Iqbal Tanha, in connection with Northeast Delhi violence on Friday.
A vacation bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian made it clear however that the bails granted to these student activists will not be affected for the time-being.
Reading down of anti-terror law is an important issue and may have pan-India ramifications, the Supreme Court said and sought responses from three activists.
"The release of respondents (accused) will not be interfered with at this stage. It will be subject to the final order... What is troubling us is that 100 pages have been written by Delhi HC in bail order discussing the entire UAPA," the Supreme Court said. The top court expressed concern over the interpretation of the UAPA law and said that ' reading down anti-terror law is an important issue and can have pan-India ramifications'.
The Delhi Police had moved the top court on Thursday, a day after the HC granted bail to three student-activists in connection with the northeast Delhi riots case. The three had been in jail for over a year after being charged under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita were arrested in May 2020 for allegedly being part of a premeditated conspiracy behind the communal violence that broke out in northeast Delhi in February 2020 during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
Taking note of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's submission that the entire anti-terror law, UAPA, has been turned upside down by the Delhi High Court while granting bail to these activists, the bench said what is troubling it was that 100 pages of the verdict have been rendered while granting bail and judgement discussed the entire law.
The High Court had on June 15 granted bail to JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha saying that in an anxiety to suppress dissent the State has blurred the line between right to protest and terrorist activity and if such a mindset gains traction, it would be a "sad day for democracy".
The HC, in three separate judgments, set aside the trial court's orders denying bail to student activists and allowed their appeals by admitting them to regular bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each along with two sureties of the like amount.
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