The Delhi High Court on Friday, while reserving its order on the bail application of Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita, in connection to the case of communal violence in northeast Delhi earlier this year, asked the Delhi Police why they did not have any video of Kalita making instigating speeches.(Devangana Kalita vs State)
The matter was listed for hearing before a Single Judge Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait.
Kalita has been arrested in four cases related to communal riots in northeast Delhi in February and has been charged with the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her alleged role in hatching a conspiracy, along with other persons accused.
She’s presently in judicial custody in Tihar Jail after she was arrested in May 2020.
In June 2020, Kalita’s bail plea in the present case was rejected by the Trial Court.
Appearing for Kalita, senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the court that she had been falsely implicated and had not made any instigating speech even though she had participated in the protest. He said that there was no evidence proving her guilt, and that she had already been granted bail in two of the four FIRs.
He pointed that Kalita neither featured in any of the CCTV footage collected by Delhi Police nor was her name taken by the co-accused, Shahrukh, in his statement.
‘They (police)did not arrest her immediately after recording the disclosure statement. They waited for 2 days to arrest her on the day when she was granted bail by the trial court.’ Mr. Sibal argued.
In response, Delhi Police maintained that the demonstrations and the violence were part of the conspiracy to lower the country’s image when the President of the United States was on a visit.
Countering his submissions, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju told the court that just because she had been granted bail did not mean that she was innocent. He said that Kalita delivered speeches which led to widespread riots in the city and was also part of an unlawful assembly.
He further argued that the law on unlawful assembly is clear and mere participation in the assembly is sufficient to constitute the offence. In order to defend the unavailability of any video footage that shows Kalita as a part of violent mob he said,” there were a lot f people who participated in that protest, it is not possible to expect the CCTV footage to capture the faces of all of them”.
The Delhi Police have said that the riots were planned by some anti-CAA protesters, who blocked the road and made inflammatory speeches to incite people. The arrested anti-CAA protesters, who are students, student activists, and local politicians, have denied the police’s allegations and said that the police have launched a witch-hunt against the Citizenship Law protesters.
On being asked if there was any video of Kalita making instigating speeches, the Delhi Police answered in negative. Delhi Police, however, stated that there were witness accounts to show Kalita’s role in the violence.
Mr. Raju further contended that if released on bail, there’s strong possibility that Kalita would indulge in similar activities and will also try to influence the witnesses.
After hearing the parties at length, the Court reserved the bail plea for order.