Unlikely to cancel bail of students activists: SC

Unlikely to cancel bail of students activists: SC

The court also noted that it is troubled by the lengthy judgment of the High Court discussing the provisions of law and giving its interpretation

Supreme Court. Credit: Reuters file photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday indicated that it was very unlikely that it would be persuaded on both, cancellation of bail to student activists and the interpretation of UAPA provisions by the Delhi High Court.

The court also noted that it is troubled by the lengthy judgment of the High Court discussing the provisions of law and giving its interpretation, which was unwarranted.

The student activists, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha were arrested in a case of larger conspiracy related to the northeast Delhi riots last year, which claimed the lives of 53 people and left hundreds injured.

Holding that prima facie, no offence was made out against the activists under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the High Court on June 15 said there cannot be blurring of line between the right to protest and terrorist activity by the State in its anxiety to suppress dissent.

On June 18, the top court directed the HC's judgement can't be treated as a precedent but declined to interfere with the release of accused.

On Thursday, taking up a plea by the Delhi government against the bail order, a bench presided over by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, "One is the issue of bail, and one is the interpretation done in the bail proceeding. This is the question I am seeking to propose... you want them in custody?"

"We are on both the issues. We will try to convince you on both the points," Mehta replied.

The bench said, "Very unlikely, but you can try."

The top court also made it clear that it won't grant several hours, during hearing, to complete arguments in the matter.

During the hearing, the bench said one is the issue of bail, and another is the issue of observations, and we don't understand this political matter.

Mehta replied, "This is not a political matter."

Justice Kaul responded, "Don't make me lose my patience. You are not letting me speak. I am only trying to segregate the matter...Should I adjourn the hearing for 6 months?"

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the student activists, sought time to file response in the matter. "The charge sheet runs into 20,000 pages. In the meantime, allow the pen drive to be filed. Otherwise, we will not be able to argue the matter," Sibal said.

After hearing arguments, the top court adjourned the matter by four weeks.

On June 18, the top court had expressed dissatisfaction with Delhi High Court's 100-page judgment granting bail to three student-activists.

The court had then directed that the Delhi High Court orders on bail won't be treated as a precedent and won't be relied upon by any parties before any court, and also declined to interfere with the release of the three accused in the matter.

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