Whereas the Supreme Court might have refused to stay the bail order of the Delhi High Court yesterday, today it did not sound comfortable with the idea. Reading down of anti-terror law is an important issue and may have pan-India ramifications, the Supreme Court observed today as it sought responses from three Pinjra Tod activists who had been granted bail by the Delhi High Court in the case of Delhi riots conspiracy.
While upholding the Delhi High Court verdict granting bail to the activists, the Supreme Court had said even yesterday that “it will not be treated as a precedent and not relied upon by the parties before any court.’’
A vacation bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian made it clear that the bails granted to these student activists — Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha — will not be affected for the time being.
The bench took note also of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s submission that the Delhi High Court had turned the anti-terror law UAPA upside down while granting bail to these activists. The bench said what was troubling was that 100 pages of the verdict had been rendered while granting bail and the judgment discussed the entire law. A 2019 verdict by the apex court had posited that scrutiny of the applicability of the UAPA was not permissible at the stage when an accused seeks bail.
The Supreme Court made these observations while hearing the special leave petitions filed by the Delhi Police against the bail granted by the Delhi High Court to the Pinjra Tod activists and students Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, and Asif Iqbal Tanha.
These activists will stay out of jail, the Supreme Court said as it upheld Tuesday’s Delhi High Court order granting them bail.
The Supreme Court also agreed to examine the legal aspects of the Delhi High Court verdict and said the case would be taken up next month.
All the three arrested in May last year for alleged instigation to riots that erupted in Delhi in February 2020 amid tension over protests against the citizenship law were given bail Tuesday on personal bonds of Rs 50,000 each and two sureties of a similar amount.
On Wednesday Delhi Police had moved the Supreme Court asking for a stay on the bail order. The police had said that the high court’s findings were “perverse and contrary to record” and appeared to be based “more on the social media narrative”.