Delhi HC grants bail to Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita in Delhi riots case

The court said that the purpose of incarceration during trial was not punitive and was to be limited to cases where it is absolutely essential

Devangana Kalita 
Devangana Kalita

NH Web Desk

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday allowed the bail plea filed by Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita in a case related to the Delhi riots filed against her, legal news website has reported.

The bail is subject to Kalita furnishing a personal bond of Rs 25,000 with one surety of the like amount to the satisfaction of trial court, if not required in any other case.

The order was pronounced by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait after it was reserved last month.

Kalita is an accused in as many as four FIRs pertaining to the anti-CAA protests and Delhi Riots. The present bail plea has been moved in FIR No. 50/2020 registered at PS Jafrabad for Delhi Riots.

She is presently in judicial custody at Tihar Jail after being arrested in May 2020.

In June 2020, Kalita's bail plea in the present case was rejected by the trial court.

Kalita had argued that there was no evidence to show her participation in rioting or violence and that she was only protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

It was pointed out that Kalita neither featured in any of the CCTV footage collected by Delhi Police, nor was her name taken by the co-accused, Shahrukh, in his statement.

In response, Delhi Police maintained that the demonstrations in which Kalita participated, and the violence, were part of the "conspiracy to lower the country's image" when President of the United States Donald Trump was visiting India.

After considering the submissions made by the parties, chargesheet filed in the FIR and the case diary, the court said that the purpose of incarceration during trial was not punitive and was to be limited to cases where it is absolutely essential.

The court opined that Kalita satisfied the triple test for releasing a person on bail and remarked, “ prejudice would be caused to the Respondent’s investigation by grant of relief to the petitioner, and she would be prevented from suffering further unnecessary harassment, humiliation, and unjustified detention. Moreover, persons similarly placed as the petitioner, as per documents placed on record by the investigating agency, have not been arrested by the investigating agency in the subject FIR, and as such, the continued custody of the petitioner in the subject FIR would serve no purpose.”

The court also perused the inner case diary which was supplied to it in a sealed cover and observed, “..though her presence is seen in peaceful agitation, which is fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India, however, (Delhi Police) failed to produce any material that she in her speech instigated women of particular community or gave hatred speech due to which precious life of a young man has been sacrificed and property damaged...there is no such evidence which establishes that the alleged offence has taken place on the act done by the petitioner, except statements recorded under section 164 Cr.P.C. much belatedly, though, those witnesses were allegedly remain present at the spot throughout.”

Clarifying that it was not commenting on the merits of the prosecution case, the Court held that Kalita was entitled to bail in the present case.

"I find no substance in arguments of learned ASG and cases relied upon are no help in the facts and circumstances of the present case," the court said.

Out of the four FIRs against her, Kalita has secured bail in three.

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