Bail granted to Pinjara Tod activist Devangana Kalita in Delhi riots case

The Delhi High Court Tuesday granted bail to Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita in a case related to the Delhi Riots.

Kalita, however, will not be released as she yet to get bail in another FIR under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in relation to the Delhi riots.

The present bail order passed by Justice Suresh Kait pertained to FIR No. 50/2020 registered at Police Station Jafrabad (being investigated by the Crime Branch).

The court said no prejudice would be caused to the investigation agency by the grant of bail to the petitioner, who would be prevented from suffering further unnecessary harassment, humiliation, and unjustified detention.

It added that persons similarly placed as Kalita have not been arrested by the investigating agency in the subject FIR, and as such, the continued custody of the petitioner in the subject FIR would serve no purpose.

Additionally, the Court said the chargesheet had already been filed against the petitioner on June 2.

Justice Kait also observed that he had gone through the inner case diary produced in a sealed cover along with the pen drive and found that though her presence was seen in a peaceful agitation, which is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

“There was no material produced that showed that she had made a speech instigating women of a particular community or that her actions had led to the death of a young man or caused damage to property”, Justice Kait said.

“Admittedly, agitation was going on since long, print and electronic media was present throughout in addition to cameras of police department, but there is no such evidence which establishes that the alleged offence has taken place on the act done by the petitioner, except statements recorded under section 164 Cr.P.C. much belatedly, though, those witnesses allegedly remain present at the spot throughout”, the court said.

The Court also highlighted that per the Inner Case Diary (produced in a sealed cover), statements of witnesses (identity withheld by the Court) were recorded belatedly on 30.06.2020, 03.07.2020 and 08.07.2020 including statements recorded under section 164 Cr.P.C. on 08.07.2020, whereas that witness claimed to be present throughout, since December 2019 when the agitation initially started against the CAA.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal who appeared for Kalita argued that the petitioner was already being investigated for the alleged larger conspiracy behind the Delhi Riots in FIR 59/2020 dated 06.03.2020 PS Crime Branch Special Unit, and it is settled law that multiple FIRs in relation to the same incident cannot be registered.

The entire incident appears to be the product of a one-sided investigation, in which the investigating agency has demonstrably made false submissions in writing at the time of opposing bail to the petitioner, Sibal alleged.

Kalita had argued that there was no evidence to show her participation in rioting or violence and that she was only protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Opposing the bail plea, Delhi police had argued that the role of the petitioner had emerged as that of the main conspirator, inasmuch as, she with an intention to cause a flare up of communal passion and to instigate a section of people to indulge in rioting, did all the preparatory work such as organising and mobilisation of crowds, sustaining the mobilised mob of a particular community at the protest site, and thereafter, instigating them to commit the offences.

Kalita has been named in four FIRs related to the Delhi riots, including under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A Delhi court had last week dismissed Kalita’s bail plea in the UAPA case.

Kalita was arrested on May 23 in a case related to rioting in northeast Delhi. While the court had granted her bail the next day in the case, she was arrested by the Crime Branch in connection with a murder case related to the riots.

On May 30, she was arrested in a case related to violence in old Delhi’s Daryaganj area in December last year. The court had granted bail to her in the case.

She was rearrested and slapped with the UAPA in early June for her alleged role in inciting communal riots.

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