Toolkit case: Delhi High Court rejects Disha Ravi plea to relax bail condition requiring permission for travel abroad

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma rejected the plea today on concluding that there was no ground to interfere with the earlier trial court order on the matter.
Disha Ravi, Delhi high court
Disha Ravi, Delhi high court

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected a plea filed by Disha Ravi, an accused in the 'farmers' toolkit case', to modify a bail condition that requires her to get court permission every time she wishes to travel abroad.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma rejected the plea today on concluding that there was no ground to interfere with the trial court order.

In February 2021, Ravi was arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with the first information report (FIR) related to the farmers' protests toolkit case.

Following this, the trial court released her on bail on February 23, 2021. However, the court directed that as bail condition, she would need to obtain permission from the trial court each time she intends to travel.

Ravi had earlier filed an application in the trial court seeking a modification of this condition.

The trial court rejected the plea on August 9.

Subsequently, the activist challenged the trial court order before the High Court.

She argued that the proceedings against her under the sedition law has already been stayed and that she has complied with the bail conditions imposed on her.

Ravi's counsel further contended that she has travelled abroad three times since being released on bail.

Therefore, the condition for seeking permission from the court before travelling abroad should be modified and mere intimation would suffice, Ravi's lawyer argued.

The Delhi Police objected to the request, contending that the inconvenience caused by the current condition is not sufficient grounds for altering the court's decision.

In a detailed order, the High Court said that the investigation in the case is still pending and the investigating agency is still collecting evidence from foreign intermediaries which are crucial pieces of evidence in the present case.

Justice Sharma noted that Ravi has been granted permissions to travel abroad on three occasions earlier as well.

“This Court does not undermine the fundamental right of petitioner to have freedom to travel abroad as per Article 21 of Indian Constitution, but at the same time, it also cannot undermine the right of the prosecuting agency to ensure that the investigation is carried out and completed without any hindrance. It is not against the principles of fair adjudication to ensure that neither the investigation nor the trial is stalled by absence of the accused/petitioner,” the Court observed.

It further said that merely intimating and going abroad to any country without permission, without submitting the itinerary and the duration or purpose of such visit will have adverse impact on the investigation and trial of the case.

“…as in that case, the Court concerned will have no check as to for how long and for what purpose the petitioner will be leaving the country and her whereabouts and itinerary will not be verified by the State before she leaves abroad which cannot be permitted at this stage when the chargesheet is yet to be filed.”

Justice Sharma concluded that the condition imposed on Ravi is not a blanket ban or infringement of her fundamental right to travel abroad but a reasonable restriction mean to enforce that neither the investigating agency nor the trial is affected by her absence.

The Bench, however, said that if Ravi moves an application seeking permission to go abroad, at least one month prior to her intended visit, the State will file appropriate response to the same expeditiously giving sufficient time to the trial court to pass appropriate order.

“The concerned Court will pass an order taking into account the plea of State and verification of the facts etc. as mentioned in the application.”

Advocates Shri Singh and Abhinav Sekhri appeared for Disha Ravi.

Additional Standing Counsel Amol Sinha represented the Delhi Police.

[Read Judgement]

Disha A Ravi v State (NCT of Delhi).pdf
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