The Supreme Court today refused to stay the Delhi high court order granting bail to three student activists — Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha — in the northeast Delhi riots conspiracy case.
The apex court decided not to interfere in the release of the respondents (accused) at this stage. It will be subject to the final order, the Supreme Court said. The court, however, issued notice to three student activists on Delhi Police appeal against the high court order.
The apex court said that the Delhi High Court order will not be treated as a precedent and shall not be relied upon by any party before any court.
“Reading down Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is an important issue and can have pan-India ramifications,” the Supreme Court said.
“What is troubling us is that 100 pages have been written by the Delhi High Court in bail order discussing entire UAPA,” the Supreme Court bench observed, indicating that this could be in contravention of the highest court’s 2019 judgment that forbade analysing the guilt of the accused at the stage of appeal for bail.
The three activists, arrested in May last year under the stringent UAPA, walked out of Tihar Jail on Thursday evening and vowed to continue their struggle.
The high court, while granting them bail on 15 June, had observed that “in an anxiety to suppress dissent, the state has blurred the line between the right to protest and terrorist activity” and if such a mindset gains traction, it would be a “sad day for democracy”.
Narwal and Kalita are JNU students associated with Pinjra Tod, a collective of communist women students of — and alumni from — colleges and universities across Delhi, who fight for women’s rights. The Pinjra Tod activists were in jail despite the bail order by the Delhi High Court. So, the Delhi court ordered their immediate release yesterday.