SC Dismisses Delhi Police Plea Against Bail Granted To Pinjra Tod Activist in Riots Case

The top court refused to interfere with the Delhi high court's decision granting bail to Devangana Kalita.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the Delhi police’s appeal against the bail granted to Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita in a case related to riots in the north-east part of the national capital during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest in February this year.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan dismissed the plea saying that being an influential person cannot be grounds for denying bail.

Additional solicitor general S.V. Raju, appearing for the Delhi police, said Kalita is a very influential person and the high court has stated that there were only police witnesses in the case.

He said there are also some protected witnesses.

The bench, also comprising Justices R.S. Reddy and M.R. Shah, questioned Raju that whether being an influential person can be grounds for denying bail and questioned how can she tamper with the witness.

The bench said it would not interfere with the Delhi high court’s decision granting bail to Kalita.

On September 1, the Delhi high court had granted bail to Kalita, saying that the police failed to show how she instigated women of a particular community or gave hate speech as she was seen in a peaceful agitation which is her fundamental right.

It said the agitation held against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, had been going on for long with print and electronic media present throughout, in addition to the cameras of the police department, but there is no evidence which establishes that the alleged offence took place on Kalita‘s action.

The evidence produced constituted statements recorded much belatedly, under Section 164 CrPC, though the witnesses allegedly remained present at the spot throughout, it said.

The high court had granted bail to Kalita on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs 20,000 and a surety of the like amount.

It also directed that she will not directly or indirectly influence any witness or tamper with the evidence and not leave the country without the permission of the trial court.

Kalita and another member of the group, Natasha Narwal, were arrested in the case in May by the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police and booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including rioting, unlawful assembly and attempt to murder.

They have also been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in a separate case related to the communal violence, for allegedly being part of a premeditated conspiracy in the riots.

Communal violence broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

In all, four cases have been registered against Kalita, including and in relation to the riots and violence in old Delhi’s Daryaganj area during protests against the CAA in December last year.

Pinjra Tod (Break the Cage) was founded in 2015 with an aim to make hostels and paying guest accommodations less restrictive for women students.