On January 28, a Delhi Court has rejected the bail plea of Far-Left Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal. The court observed that intentionally blocking roads leading to disruption of essential services, attack on police personnel, and eventually culminating in riots falls within the scope of the terrorist act under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Natasha was booked under UAPA in May 2020.
#DelhiRiots : Delhi Court dismisses bail application by Natasha Narwal in the riots case under UAPA.— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) January 28, 2021
Court observes that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the accusations against Narwal were prima facie true.
@pinjat @DelhiPolice #NatashaNarwal pic.twitter.com/iRKxOgkyiN
The court noted that the entire conspiracy began in December 2019 by intentionally blocking roads to cause inconvenience and disruption of supplies of services that are essential to the life of the community of India. It resulted in violence with various means and led to the February incident. The court said, “[The conspiracy led] to the February incident with the focus being targeted blocking of roads at mixed population areas and creating panic and attack on police personnel with facade of women protesters in front and leading to riots would be covered by the definition of terrorist act.”
The case against Natasha is prima facia true, said the court
Additional Judge Amitabh Rawat said that there was sufficient incriminating evidence against Natasha, and there were reasonable grounds to believe that the accusations against her are prima facia true. “Hence the present application for bail of accused Natasha Narwal is dismissed,” he added.
This was the first bail plea filed by Natasha since Delhi Police filed a charge sheet against her. Advocate Adit Pujari representing Natasha, claimed in the plea that there were no offences under UAPA made out against her. She claimed that the protests in which Natasha participated were organic and secular in nature. However, the prosecution said that the case is a “multi-layered, multi-organizational” and “deep-rooted conspiracy” and prima facie. Thus the case under UAPA was registered.
The right to protest is not absolute
During the hearing, the court stated that the citizens have the right to protest. However, these rights are not absolute. There should be reasonable restrictions. “What actually has to be seen in the context of the present case is whether there was a conspiracy which led to riots under the guise of the protest against CAA or not, in terms of the contents of the charge sheet and the accompanying documents,” the court added.
The court further said that even if the court takes the argument that only one side of the road was blocked into consideration, it would have prevented entirely the ingress and egress for the people who were surrounded and for whom panic and terror was created. The court further said that we find “sufficient incriminating material against the present accused” after observing the statement of protected witnesses under Section 164 CrPC.
Red chilli powder was distributed to women
After reviewing the WhatsApp group’s chat under scrutiny, the court said that there was a specific reference to Narwal and the distribution of red chilli powder to women so that they could attack police and paramilitary on February 23. The court also noted that Narwal was linked to other accused in the case. “There is contemporaneous record which cannot be wished away at this stage of bail,” the court said.