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A Sessions Court at Delhi's Tis Hazari Court Complex today granted bail to fifteen persons who were arrested in the aftermath of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Daryaganj in December last year.
All fifteen were extended bail by Judge, MACT, Kamini Lau on a bail bond of Rs 25,000 and a surety of the like amount.
As bail conditions, the Court has directed all fifteen to submit their passports and to not influence any witness.It has also directed them to appear before the SHO, Daryaganj on every Saturday for a month. Thereafter, the fifteen accused persons need to appear before the SHO every four weeks until further orders, the Court added.
Fifteen persons, along with Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Azad, were arrested by the Delhi Police pursuant to an FIR filed under Sections 147/148/149/436/427/323/353/332/186/120-B/34 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
The Duty Magistrate had initially remanded these fifteen to two days' judicial custody. The judicial remand was extended by fourteen days by Metropolitan Magistrate Kapil Kumar on December 23.
On the same day, their bail plea was also rejected by the Metropolitan Magistrate on the ground that the investigation was at an initial stage and that no ground for bail was made out.
Subsequently, bail applications were moved before the Sessions Court.
After hearing the rival contentions and submissions put forth by the Delhi Police and the counsel for the fifteen accused, the Court opined that prima facie, it did not appear that the protest was peaceful, particularly in the light of the damage caused to the vehicleand injuries caused not only to the police personnel on duty but also to media persons covering the protests.
It thus observed,
"We, the people of India, have given to ourselves the Constitution and agreed to disagree. In our democratic setup we have a Fundamental Right to Peaceful Protest guaranteed by the Constitution, which right cannot be curtailed by the State. However, at the same time, our constitution strikes a fine balance between the Rights and Duties. While exercising our right of peaceful protest, it is our duty to ensure that no corresponding right of another is violated. Violence or destruction of property is totally unacceptable. There has to be zero tolerance for any kind of violence or damage to property whether private or public. Lawlessness cannot be encouraged."
The Court then noted that in present case, the CCTV footage upon which Investigating agency had placed its reliance was reported to be of a poor quality and admittedly did not reflect any of the accused persons.
It added that the request to access the footage of another CCTV which is installed at the office of the DCP (Central) Darya Ganj was still pending.
In so far as the aspect of damage to property was concerned, the Court recorded that till date no assessment of damage had bene made by the IO.
To extend bail to the accused, the Court also took into account the failure of the Delhi Police to submit the opinion on the MLCs of the seventeen police personnel and two media persons had sustained injuries.
"In this regard, it has become necessary for me to observe that repeated adjournments were given for the said purpose, on 08.01.2020 specific directions were also issued to the IO to obtained the opinion on the MLC.. I am not satisfied by the manner in which the Investigating Officer SI Santosh Kumar has tried to skirt the issue and his failure to place on record the opinion on the MLCs cannot be a ploy to further curtail the liberties of the applicants/ accused who are in Judicial Custody for the last more than 20 days."
Lastly, it noted that the provisions invoked in the present case were, by and large, bailable and triable by Magistrate, expect for Section 436 IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Damage to Public Property Act. However, whether Section 436 IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Damage to Public Property Act could be invoked was debatable at this stage, it added.
In conclusion, the Court observed that the accused were no longer required for any investigations and had been in judicial custody for last twenty days and granted bail subject to the compliance of the abovementioned conditions.
The fifteen accused were represented by Senior Advocate Rebecca John and Advocates Tara Narula, Zahid Ali.
Advocate Pankaj Bhatia was the Additional Public Prosecutor.
Earlier today, a Court at Delhi's Tis Hazari Complex directed jail authorities to ensure that Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Azad is given therapeutic phlebotomy for Polycythemia at AIIMS.
Read the Order: