“The prosecution needs to be reminded that the right to protest is a constitutionally recognised right," senior advocate Rebecca John, representing Northeast Delhi riots-accused Khalid Saifi, told a Delhi court on Wednesday, 25 August, The Indian Express reported.
United Against Hate Founder Khalid Saifi had been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in the organisation of the Delhi riots of February 2020.
John, who had submitted an application for Saifi's bail in the court, told additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat that the mere act of protesting does not implicate one as part of a conspiracy.
“Saifi protested against the CAA and NRC as did I and many others in this room. It does not make any one of us culpable. It is a vibrant democracy. Was there an incitement to violence?” she was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
The bail application of the accused observed that the prosecution had advanced some of Saifi's speeches and interviews as evidence in the case, and noted that none of the records are indicative of any incitement of violence.
“The said speeches and interview would only prove that the Applicant herein firmly believes in the democratic rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It is submitted that the present case is an abuse of process of law and blatant attempt to stifle dissent,” the application stated, The Indian Express reported.
John also refuted the invocation of the UAPA in the present case, arguing that the charges levelled against the accused are based on conjecture and do not fall under the ambit of the unlawful activities law.
The matter has been posted for a further hearing on 9 September.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and The Hindustan Times)