The Supreme Court Wednesday granted bail to 21 persons accused of indulging in violence in Mangaluru on December 19 during anti-CAA protests.
The accused had already been granted bail by the Karnataka High Court on February 17. However, the apex court stayed this order on March 6 on an appeal filed by the State Government.
Six months since they were given bail by the HC, the accused could not be released due to a stay order of the apex court.
While considering an application for interim bail, a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice S A Bobde today proceeded to order the release of all accused. The bench, however, said that it had not treated the observation of the Karnataka High Court that it was not possible to prima facie determine the presence of the accused persons at the spot, as a final finding of the fact.
The Court also directed that the accused would report to the nearest police station on every alternative Monday and they would ensure that they do not participate in any violent activities/meetings.
In their plea, the accused persons contended that they were involved in peaceful protests but the police had resorted to the firing leading to the death of two persons. They submitted they have been in custody for more than seven months since December 22, 2019. The police, they said, had already filed a charge sheet and hence they were not required for investigations anymore.
The accused added that after the apex court’s order of March 6, “the scenario has considerably changed with the fatal spread of Covid-19 pandemic throughout the country and the world.”
They, thus, argued that it was necessary not to keep undertrials unnecessarily detained as it would lead to overcrowding of jails and may cause a spread of the virus.
They were represented by senior advocate R Basant assisted by advocates Haris Beeran and Pallavi Pratap. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the State Government.