Granted Bail, Labour Rights Activist Nodeep Kaur Leaves Prison
The court said that just because police investigation is still ongoing, this isn’t grounds to deny personal liberty.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday, 26 February, granted bail to labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur in the third case against her, the only one awaiting bail.
Later in the day, she was released from Karnal jail, where she had been lodged for over a month.
The bail plea filed by her counsels was listed for Friday, along with the suo motu case taken up by the Punjab and Haryana High Court based on her complaints of illegal detention.
After the activist claimed that she had been severely beaten up at a police station in Sonipat at the time of her arrest last month, her counsel Arshdeep Singh Cheema said the court had asked the State of Haryana to put her medical reports on record.
The court posted her bail application for hearing on Friday, and granted her bail after hearing brief arguments.
In its order, the court declined to go into the merits of the police’s case against Kaur. It has also not made any observations on the medical reports, and will continue to hear the suo motu case on illegal detention at a later date.
The Haryana Police claimed that they have video evidence which links her to a physical attack on police officers who had gone to deal with a workers’ protest at a factory in Kundli, and had therefore booked her under Section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder). However, the police did not make any specific arguments for why Kaur needed to be denied bail at this stage.
“The petitioner is in custody since 12.1.2021. Albeit the matter is under investigation, but that itself would not be reasons to deny personal liberty to the petitioner,” Justice Avneesh Jhingan said in his order granting bail.
The court clarified the merits of the case, from the invocation of provisions like Section 307, to the video recording that the police provided to the court in a pen drive, would have to be dealt with at trial.
Kaur has been directed to maintain restraint while on bail “to ensure that no law and order issue arises due to her actions.” She is to be released subject to furnishing surety bonds as directed by the local magistrate.
The 24-year-old Dalit labour rights activist was arrested from the Singhu border on 12 January, where she was part of the ongoing farmers’ protest against the Centre’s contentious farm laws.
Kaur Reports Physical and Sexual Abuse
Kaur has consistently claimed that her medical examination was not conducted properly, which is in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Kaur, who had been held in Karnal jail for over a month, has alleged physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the authorities since her arrest, but the police have denied these accusations.
She had three cases lodged against her, including her involvement of protests for workers' rights in the Kundli Industrial Area. She has been granted bail in two of the three cases. Bail for the third, ie the current case, was awaited, in which she was charged with Section 307 (attempt to murder).
What Did Her Bail Plea Say?
In her bail plea, Kaur has reportedly said she was falsely named as an accused in an FIR lodged under various sections, including 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC.
She claimed that she was “targeted and falsely implicated” in the case because she was successful in mobilising labourers for a protest at Kundli in Sonipat district in support of the farmers’ agitation.
According to Kaur, a team from Kundli police station reached the site of the protests and grabbed her by her hair and dragged her to the side. She was then arrested by the police, taken to the police station where there was no woman police official present and was beaten up by police officials, the plea alleges.
Kaur alleged that she had only been heading a peaceful protest at Kundli to ensure workers were paid their wages. The high court held that it was a matter of trial to see if the line for a peaceful protest had been crossed in the alleged incident or not.
Kaur’s sister Rajvir had claimed that the arrested activist had been thrashed by the Haryana Police on her private parts. However, SP Jashandeep Singh Randhawa denied Rajvir’s allegations of sexual assault and called them “baseless”.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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