Delhi Police approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 16 June, challenging the Delhi High Court judgments granting bail to three Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) accused – Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal, and Devangana Kalita – on Tuesday.
They have been granted bail in the case registered under FIR 59 – one of the north-east Delhi riots cases that aims to unravel the alleged large-scale conspiracy that the Delhi Police special cell has been probing.
While Tanha is a student of the Jamia Millia Islamia, Narwal and Kalita are PhD scholars at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The High Court had held that prima facie, no offence under Sections 15, 17 and/or 18 of the UAPA was made-out on the basis of the material on record in the present case against the three.
A portion of Kalita’s bail order read:
“Even if we assume for the sake of argument, without expressing any view thereon, that in the present case inflammatory speeches, chakka jams, instigation of women protesters and other actions, to which the appellant is alleged to have been party, crossed the line of peaceful protests permissible under our Constitutional guarantee, that, however, would yet not amount to commission of a ‘terrorist act’ or a ‘conspiracy’ or an ‘act preparatory’ to the commission of a terrorist act as understood under the UAPA.”
The court also noted that the state has blurred the lines between the constitutional right to protest and “terrorist activity”. It found in both Narwal and Kalita’s judgments:
“We are constrained to say, that it appears, that in its anxiety to suppress dissent and in the morbid fear that matters may get out of hand, the State has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity’. If such blurring gains traction, democracy would be in peril.”
The Alleged Conspiracy Under FIR 59
The Delhi Police special cell has tried to make the case that the communal violence in which 53 people were killed and property worth crores was destroyed was a conspiracy by activists protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). Additionally, the police alleged that the activists orchestrated the violence in a way that the ‘chakka jam’ would lead to a full-blown case of communal violence.
The police had claimed that members of Pinjra Tod, an organisation that Kalita and Narwal are a part of, had mobilised women to protest at the Seelampur protest site close to Jaffrabad in northeast Delhi. The three were accused of actively being involved in a manner to cause disruption in Delhi, that would lead to a law and order problem at an unprecedented scale.
The police believe that the day to incite violence was chosen on the basis of the visit of the then US President Donald Trump, to cause maximum embarrassment.
To read what the original charge sheet says but fails to prove about the ‘conspiracy’, click here.