New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Tuesday granted bail to Jamia Millia Islamia student Safoora Zargar, after the Delhi Police said it had no objections to her release on humanitarian grounds. Zargar was arrested on April 10.
Zargar is 23 weeks pregnant. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the ease with which the disease can spread in overcrowded prisons, concern had been expressed about her health and safety in Tihar jail.
According to LiveLaw, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench on Tuesday that the state had no objections to her release on bail “provided she doesn’t indulge in activities she’s being investigated for”. Mehta also asked that she remain in Delhi.
At the request of lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan, who is appearing for Zargar, the court narrowed the scope of the bail condition pressed by Mehta, specifying only that she not indulge in activities that “infract the law”.
The bench of Justice Rajiv Shakhdher granted Zargar bail on furnishing a bond of Rs 10,000, but on certain conditions. She cannot indulge in the activities that will violate the law or hamper the investigation, the judge said. In addition, she must take the court’s permission before leaving Delhi and be in touch with the investigating officer every 15 days on the phone.
This order, the judge said, should no be treated as a precedent in this case or any other case. Justice Shakhdher also said he was returning, unopened, some documents he had received from the state in a “sealed cover”. He has not opened or perused the documents, he said, which will be returned to the SG.
“I am very grateful to the high court. Her arrest and detention was a travesty. A rather graceless and absurd case was made out by the status report filed in opposition to her plea for bail. Indeed, the state had opposed her bail all through, and in these dreadful COVID days, she has remained in detention for over two months on an untenable case,” Ramakrishnan, Zargar’s lawyer, told The Wire.
“We were ready on merits too, but the need was obviated by the SG and Aman Lekhi conceding the matter, which was as it should be. Equating dissent with criminality is as pernicious as it is dangerous, and a trend that must be most strongly opposed.”
Earlier on Monday, the Delhi police had objected to granting bail, saying pregnancy was not a valid ground for it.
As The Wire has reported before, Zargar was arrested by the Special Cell on April 10, in connection with FIR 48/2020 filed in the Jaffrabad road-block case. She was granted bail in the case on April 13 but on the same day, her name was added to FIR 59/2020 and she was arrested again.
In its report, the Delhi Police has said statements of “witnesses and co-accused clearly implicate Zargar as being a leading co-conspirator in commissioning of serious offence of causing large-scale disruption and riots, not only in the national capital but also in other parts of the country.”