Delhi Court Rejects Bail Plea of JNU Student, Devangana Kalita
On Saturday, A Delhi court rejected the bail application of Pinjra Tod member and JNU student Devangana Kalita, who has been booked under the anti-terror law, UAPA, in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat said the statements by protected witnesses in the same case reflects the roles of Katila and other accused in setting up pre-determined activities at the anti-CAA protest sites such as road blockade as a part of ‘conspiracy’ which led to the riots.
“The accused had planned and done chakka-jam resulting in riots as part of the plan. The statements clearly point out the role of the accused Devangana (Kalita) as also other co-accused persons and various actions taken by them in pursuance of the conspiracy. Considering the statement of such witnesses regarding the role of the accused Devangana and other accused persons whose conduct is also highlighted by various statements, I have no hesitation to hold that there are reasonable grounds for believing that accusation against accused are prima facie true,” said the order passed by the judge. Thus, the statements or acts by the other co-conspirators in furtherance of common object of the conspiracy will be admissible against the present accused Devangana, and the statements and evidence will have to be read in entirety since it is a case of conspiracy. Moreover, the assertion that the accused herself physically and directly did not resort to violence as understood in common parlance would not be germane in the context of various acts committed by different individuals including accused in the commission of riots,” the court said.
As described by the court, the present case is claimed to be that of a conspiracy resulting in riots. Various individuals, organisations and groups are said to be inter-linked and working in tandem.
Advocate Adit Pujari, counsel of Kalita expressed that the provisions of bail are stringent and would not be attracted since there was no conspiracy and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was wrongly invoked in the case. He argued that the prosecution, Amit Prasad, has fairly failed to show any prima facie case against her. He also mentioned that Katila does have a history of adopting a cause-based peaceful expression of dissent. However, the court then argued that though the accused has a right to protest against any legislation and that was the freedom granted to her by the Constitution of India, it is subject to reasonable restrictions.
“The said assertion was correct to the extent that freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution of India grants her the power and right to voice her opinion about any legislation and thus, to peacefully protest However, such a right under Article 19 of the Constitution of India is subject to reasonable restrictions,” it said.
According to the case of prosecution, Pinjra Tod extensively participated in anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests and being a part of the organization, it is alleged she was in constant touch with accused for the same matter. Pujari claimed that prosecution is failing to make an offense against her as what she was alleged to have said was also narrated by many other public personalities.
The public prosecutor contented it was apparent from the examination of case file and case diaries that there was adequate material on record to suggest the role of Kalita in the conspiracy.
The court will further continue the investigation of the case.