More than 24 hours after they were granted bail by the Delhi High Court, activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, and Asif Iqbal Tanha are yet to be released from prison. The Delhi police on Wednesday, 16 June, attributed the delay in releasing them to verifying the sureties and addresses.
The three activists had moved the trial court on Tuesday seeking their immediate release following the HC order, to which the police argued that the verification of the permanent addresses and sureties had delayed the release.
However, the court had then deferred passing an order on Tuesday for want for verification of their addresses and sureties, reported Bar and Bench.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Additional Sessions Judge Revinder Bedi, deferred the order to Thursday, 11 am, citing a “heavy board” of other bail applications.
"It’s 6 pm. Order could not be passed due to HEAVY BOARD of bail applications listed before the undersigned," said the judge.
On Wednesday, the Delhi Police also approached the Supreme Court, challenging the HC judgment granting bail to the three activists.
The Delhi HC on Tuesday had granted bail to the three held under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) after the Delhi riots last year, stating that protests can’t be made grounds for terrorism.
What the Police Told The Court
The police claimed that their permanent addresses were in different states like Jharkhand, Assam, and Haryana, which needs “paucity of time to complete the verification,” NDTV reported.
“We have to go to the banks also to verify all the bail bonds. It takes time to verify each and every document of theirs,” the investigating officer told the court.
On being asked how much time they would need to complete all the verifications, the Public Prosecutor told the court that the police would need three more days - one to verify sureties and two to verify their addresses.
What Activists’ Lawyer Argued
The activists’ lawyer Advocate Adit S Pujari said that even if their permanent addresses were in other states which are their hometowns, the three accused primarily lived in Delhi in rented houses, they were arrested in Delhi as mentioned in the arrest memo and the same was listed in the documents submitted to the police.
“Verification is the work of the police. Our work is to submit the bail bonds. The High Court order is clear, the accused have to be released within 24 hours once they submit the bail bonds,” he said, as quoted by NDTV.
He also assured the court that the three will be in Delhi till the police are done with the verifications and have given an undertaking assuring the same, urging the court to pass a release order as soon as possible.
“We have done our work. Can't be in jail because the police haven't done their work,” the lawyer said, as quoted by NDTV.
The three activists were granted bail in the case registered under FIR 59 – one of the northeast Delhi riots cases that aim to unravel the alleged large-scale conspiracy that the Delhi Police special cell has been probing.
While Tanha is a student of Jamia Millia Islamia, Narwal and Kalita are PhD scholars at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.