Thursday, February 22, 2024

Supreme Court dismisses Delhi Police’s plea challenging bail to student leaders in UAPA case

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the special petition filed by the Delhi Police challenging the bail granted by the Delhi High Court to student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha in the Delhi program UAPA case.

Noting that that the student leaders have been enlarged on bail for nearly two years, the bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah noted in the order, “We find no reason to keep this matter alive,” Live Law reported.

The top court also clarified in the order that it has not gone into the correctness of the interpretation given by the Delhi High Court to the provisions of the UAPA while granting bail to the accused.

“We have not gone into the legal position with respect of the matter one way or the other”, the bench stated.

The Delhi High Court in 2021 June 15 judgment found that offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) were prima facie not made out against student leaders Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal, and Devangana Kalita in the Delhi pogrom conspiracy case.

The High Court also held that “the right to protest is not outlawed and cannot be termed as a ‘terrorist act’ within the meaning of the UAPA”.

“In its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be getting somewhat blurred. If this mindset gains traction, it would be a sad day for democracy,” Delhi High Court had observed during the hearing.

“…the right to protest is not outlawed and cannot be termed as a ‘terrorist act’ within the meaning of the UAPA, unless of course the ingredients of the offences under sections 15, 17 and/or 18 of the UAPA are clearly discernible from the factual allegations contained in charge-sheet and the material filed therewith” court observed.

The student leaders were at the forefront of the nationwide anti-Citizenship Amendment Act movement that shed light on India’s new discriminatory policies.

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