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‘Based on social media narrative than evidence and chargesheet: Delhi Police files SLP after Pinjra Tod accused get bail

"This in the respectful submission of the petitioner is without any foundation and appears to be based more on the social media narrative than the evidence gathered and elaborated in the chargesheet", said the Delhi Police

On 15th June, the Delhi High Court granted bail to Jamia Milia Islamia student leader Asif Iqbal Tanha, far-left ‘activists’ Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal in the Anti-Hindu Delhi riots case.

According to the reports, the Delhi High Court granted bail to the UAPA accused Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita in the Delhi riots case. The Delhi Police had arrested the three far-left ‘activists’ in the case, and a case was registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their role in the anti-Hindu riots that was unleashed on the streets of Delhi in February last year.

The High Court has granted bail to the three accused in connection with the FIR 59 filed by the Delhi Police in the Anti-Hindu Delhi riots case. In the FIR 59/2020, a total of 15 people, including Asif Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, were named by the Delhi police. The police claimed that Tanha played an active role in orchestrating riots in Delhi during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The Delhi police have now filed an SLP (Special Leave Petition) with the Supreme Court taking exception to the observations made while granting bail to the accused and also, praying for the stay on bail granted.

In the SLP, Delhi police say that the court has conducted a “mini-trial” in the case while granting bail to the accused and has “recorded perverse finding which is contrary to the record and the arguments made during the hearing of the case to arrive at a finding that case under Sections 15,17 and 18 of UAPA was prima facie not made out against the respondent”.

The SLP further says that the High Court has assumed that this case is one of a simple protest, however, that is not in tune with the evidences on record. Saying that the court has applied “irrelevant considerations” while granting bail to the accused, the SLP says, “Hon’ble High Court completely lost sight of the evidences and statements which were produced before it and had arrived at the impugned judgment discarding the evidences which clearly made out a sinister plot of mass-scale riots being hatched by the respondent along with other co-conspirators”.

While granting bail to the accused, the High Court had observed, “We are constrained to express, that it seems, that in its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between the 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“, however, the SLP now filed by the Delhi police takes strong exception to this particular assertion by the court.

In its SLP, the Delhi police has said that this observation was beyond the purview of the bail petition and was ‘perverse and misdirected’ in nature. The Delhi Police says, “There was a cause and evidence of terrorist activity against the respondent; there was corroborative evidence, however, while applying the legislative mandate the Hon’ble High Court misdirected itself and gave ex-facie perverse findings to arrive a conclusion that no case of UAPA was made out”.

In its scathing submission, the Delhi police say that the judicial scrutiny while granting bail to the accused was not to evaluate the evidence on the record but to “somehow establish” that the government was trying to suppress “dissent”. Delhi police say, “This in the respectful submission of the petitioner is without any foundation and appears to be based more on the social media narrative than the evidence gathered and elaborated in the chargesheet“.

The Delhi police also countered vehemently the observation made by the High Court regarding the application of UAPA. The court had said “In our opinion, the intent and purport of the Parliament in enacting the UAPA, and more specifically in amending it in 2004 and 2008 to bring terrorist activity within its scope, was, and could only have had been, to deal with matters of profound impact on the ‘Defence of India’, nothing more and nothing less...It was neither the intent nor purport of enacting UAPA that other offences of the usual and ordinary kind, however grave, egregious or heinous in their nature and extent, should also be covered by UAPA, since such conventional matters would have fallen within Entry 1 of List-II (State List) and/or Entry 1 of List-III (Concurrent List) of the Seventh Schedule to our Constitution. In order to lean in favour of constitutionality of the provisions of section 15, 17 and 18 of the UAPA, as we must, it must be taken that the Parliament acted within the realm of its legislative competence and that UAPA came to be enacted and amended in 2004 and 2008 to address issues relating to the ‘Defence of India‘”.

Delhi police said that the above consideration is ‘irrelevant’ to grant bail and the above reasoning would also hamper investigations being carried out by other organisations including NIA.

Based on these comments, the Delhi Police made the following 8 prayers to the Supreme Court:

1. The impugned order is ex-facie perverse as it misapplies the law of bail releasing the appellant by ignoring the overwhelming evidence present on record and completely disregarding that the allegations against the appellant are prima facie true.

2. The impugned order has directed release of persons who are accused of serious offences under UAPA and hence there is urgency in the matter as immediate stay has been sought in the present case. 

3. The offence alleged against the petitioner are under Section 15 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The trial Court has denied bail to the appellant however, by way of the impugned order the High Court has allowed the appeal under Section 21 (4) of the NIA Act without even referring or demonstrating as to who the reasoning of the trial Court is erroneous. 

4. While granting the bail, the impugned order has ignored material evidence against the petitioners which were present on record and the allegations have been made of flippant use of UAPA for which there is no basis and when there is enough evidence available to invoke the same against the appellant. 

5. The Impugned order, through an erroneous interpretation has watered down the provisions of UAPA which will have wide ramifications and will affect all the cases registered by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) under the provisions of UAPA hence, immediate stay of operation of the impugned order is sought.

6. The High Court has misinterpreted the law laid down by this Hon’ble Court in the case of Union of India vs. K A Najeeb which will open a flood gate affecting almost every case under UAPA. Therefore it is essential that such observations made by the High Court are stayed immediately. 

7. The High Court while granting bail to the appellant before it, has render findings touching upon the merits of the matter which will affect other similar cases jeopardising the cases going on before the Trial Court. Hence, it is essential that the same should be stayed immediately. 

Asif Iqbal provoked common Muslims to weaponise violence

Asif Iqbal further admitted that he delivered provocative speeches at several places in the country, including Kolkata, Kota, Lucknow, Kanpur, Ujjain, Indore, Jaipur, Patna, Sabzibagh, Araria, Samastipur, Ahmedabad. Reportedly, he urged common Muslims to protest against the Indian and not to shy away from engaging in violence if such a need arose.

Asif added that JNU activist Umar Khalid had suggested the idea of blocking roads and disrupting traffic during the visit of US President Donald Trump to India. The plan of action was then executed by the likes of Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar, which later culminated into violent riots. Besides his desire to turn India into an Islamic country, he considered the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as anti-Muslim and therefore joined the students of Jamia Milia Islamia in opposing it. 

Far-left activist – Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita accused in instigating Anti-Hindu riots

The Delhi police had also arrested two far-left activists of Pinjra Tod – Natasha Narwal and Devangna Kalita for their role in stoking communal violence during the anti-Hindu riots in North-East Delhi in February last year that claimed 53 people and left more than 400 injured.

On May 23, the Special cell of Delhi police had arrested two women named Natasha and Devangna in the North-East Delhi riots case. Both the women are founding members of Pinjra Tod, which was established in 2015.

Some citizens of Seelampur, Jafrabad, and Trans-Yamuna had accused Pinjra Tod and other elite civil society groups of inciting riots in the national capital.

Pinjra Tod claims to be an autonomous collective of women students fighting for a just, accessible, non-discriminatory University and affordable accommodation and has been involved in numerous protests and campaigns of a far-left nature.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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