Delhi riots case: SC issues notice on Delhi Police appeal, says case may have ‘pan-India ramifications

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice on the appeal filed by the Delhi Police against the Delhi High Court order granting bail to three student activists in the Delhi riots conspiracy case, saying the interpretation of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the case may have ‘pan-India ramifications.’
The bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian, however, clarified that it was not interfering with the bail granted to the activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha at this stage.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s submitted that the entire anti-terror law, UAPA, has been turned upside down by the Delhi HC while granting bail to these activists.
Then the bench said, “In a bail application, a 100-page judgment discussing all laws is very surprising.”
Mr Mehta also argued that the riots happened because the three accused conspired with others when the President of the United States was visiting.
However, he said, “I agreed that the HC order be not stayed so that bail to three is cancelled, but let it not be a precedent.”
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the activists, said, “Staying this would mean the order is prima facie stayed. We too also have a lot to say. Let us not do this…in the meantime let us not treat the High Court order as a precedent.”
After hearing both sides, the top court has given four weeks for a counter-affidavit, stating the High Court order could not, in the meantime, be used as a precedent for other cases.
In three of its separate judgments, the HC had set aside the trial court’s orders denying bail to student activists and allowed their appeals by admitting them to regular bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each along with two sureties of the like amount.
After the order, the Delhi Police moved to the Supreme Court, saying they are not satisfied with the interpretation of the provisions of UAPA by the High Court in a matter concerned with the grant of bail.
On Tuesday, a Delhi HC bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup J Bhambhani had set aside the trial court’s orders denying bail to all the three student activists.
“In our opinion, the intent and purport of the Parliament in enacting the UAPA, and more specifically in amending it in 2004 and 2008 to bring the terrorist activity within its scope, was, and could only have had been, to deal with matters of profound impact on the ‘Defence of India’, nothing more and nothing less” the bench had asserted.
Narwal and Kalita, research scholars at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and also the members of ‘Pinjra Tod’, a collective of students from colleges in Delhi, were lodged in Tihar Jail since May last year.
Asif Iqbal Tanha is a final year BA student at Jamia Millia Islamia. He was arrested in the Delhi riots case under UAPA in May 2020 and has been in continuous custody since then.
The police claimed that Tanha played an active role in orchestrating the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

On February 24, 2020, communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiraled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.