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The Supreme Court today, stayed the Karnataka High Court order granting bail to 21 PFI members who were involved in the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) agitation that took a violent turn on 19 December last year, in Mangaluru. [The State of Karnataka vs Ashik @ Mohammed Asik and ors]
The order passed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justice BR Gavai, and Justice Surya Kant stayed the High Court judgment and issued notice to the accused. In this regard, the Apex Court order reads,
Issue notice. In the meanwhile, there shall be an ad interim stay of operation of the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court if the respondents-accused are still in custody.
Karnataka High Court
The Karnataka High Court earlier, while granting bail to the 21 persons had observed that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Mangalore police to cover up excesses committed against the anti-CAA protestors.
The High Court order passed by Justice John Michael Cunha states,
“…a deliberate attempt is underway to cover up police excesses by implicating innocent persons at the whims and caprice of the police. Overzealousness of the police is also evident from the fact that the FIRs are registered under section 307 IPC against the persons killed by the police themselves.”
It was alleged that they were part of an unlawful assembly of 1500-2000 Muslim youth who conspired to set fire to a police station and cause destruction to public property.
A whole host of charges were levelled against the petitioners, including those under Section 307 (attempt to murder), Section 143 (unlawful assembly) and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The accused had then approached the Karnataka High Court contending that they had been falsely implicated in the alleged offences, without evidence to prove their involvement.
At the outset, the Court noted that the police had killed two persons and injured several others during the violence that followed the crackdown on anti-CAA protests in Mangalore.
“The police have not registered even a single case on the complaints filed by the injured and relatives of the dead persons and thus the petitioners seek their release on bail.”
On a related note, the Karnataka High Court had recently directed the State Police to withdraw endorsements that were filed based on complaints received in the Mangaluru police firing that occurred in December, in the wake of the CAA protests.
The High Court had earlier directed deputy commissioners and district magistrates to call upon media persons who were in possession of video clippings of the firing incident.
[Read the order]