Amidst the much justice done and denied, the Delhi High Court’s order for bail comes as a relief to the trio –Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narval and Asif Iqbal Tanha who were arrested for the northeast Delhi riot case in February last year. The court observed that the “line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be getting somewhat blurred.”
“Before the birthday, it’s a super gift for us. Last birthday, she was in jail. We couldn’t even wish her. Even our lawyer couldn’t even meet her or talk to her at that time,” she told PTI over the phone from her hometown Dibrugarh in Assam. It happened last year in February, during a riot triggered by a clash between the supporters of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and those opposing it. However, some people were injured and lost their lives in the riot. The police in a haste booked Kalita, Narval and Tanha under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which is a stringent law and bail is simply an exception.
The Court further said, “protests against Governmental and Parliamentary actions are legitimate; and though such protests are expected to be peaceful and non-violent, it is not uncommon for protesters to push the limits permissible in law.”
A bench of Justices Siddhartha Mridul and Anup J. Bhambani granted bail to the three giving a clean chit to their intentions of protest as a right of any citizen. They also maintained that the additional conditions, limitations and restrictions on grant of bail under Section 43D(5) UAPA do not apply. As the order read,
“We are constrained to express that it seems, that in its anxiety to suppress dissent, in the mind of the State, the line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and terrorist activity seems to be getting somewhat blurred. If this mindset gains traction, it would be a sad day for democracy,”
The parents of Devangana are happy with the justice done; unfortunately, Narval’s father succumbed to Covid last month and could witness the victory of the democracy. However, such verdicts and justice for common people will surely firmly instil faith in the Judiciary system, though late but not denied.