“We don’t believe in unnecessarily putting people behind bars. Bail matters should not go on and on and should not be dealt with in this manner.”
These were the words of the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, 17 January, as it heard applications filed by the Delhi Police against a Delhi High Court order granting bail to student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha in the Delhi Riots ‘Larger Conspiracy’ Case.
The three activists were released from the Tihar Jail after 13 months of imprisonment on 17 June 2021.
More details? The matter was listed before a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Abhay S Oka and JB Pardiwala.
The Supreme Court had in June 2021 also passed a direction that the Delhi High Court judgment would not apply as precedent until the matter was finally decided. Thus, some of the co-accused in the case have, according to Livelaw, also filed impleadment applications pertaining to the other cases.
So what exactly did the bench say? Justice Kaul was quoted by Livelaw as commenting on the long duration of bail hearings. He reportedly remarked:
“Should High Courts even be spending so many hours on bail matters? I don’t understand this. It's a complete wastage of judicial time of the High Court.”
He also said that he does not understand why “both sides want full trial to go on in a bail matter.”
Further, when the counsel appearing for the State said that their case is that the bail granted to Kalita, Nawal and Iqbal should be cancelled, Justice Kaul remarked:
“You are entitled to pray for the sky. I am not stopping you.”
What did the co-accused say? The applicants reportedly pointed out that the co-accused were still incarcerated because of the apex court’s earlier stay on the application of the bail orders as precedent.
The counsel for one of the applicants submitted that the allegation against him is that he purchased a SIM card from one co-accused in order to give to another co-accused.
“That co-accused is out on bail. This gentleman was also granted bail…Now, we are hanging fire...Trial Court has observed that it cannot give bail.”
(With inputs from LiveLaw.)