Don't believe in unnecessarily keeping people behind bars: SC in Delhi riots case

Supreme Court of India [Representational Image]
Supreme Court of India [Representational Image] File: ANI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that it does not believe in unnecessarily keeping people behind the bars while hearing the Delhi Police's petitions challenging bail granted to three student activists in a case of 2020 Delhi riots, which left 53 dead and over 700 injured.

Advocate Rajat Nair, representing the police, requested the bench headed by justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul to schedule the hearing on petitions after two weeks since Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is arguing in a separate matter before a constitution bench. Nair emphasized that they have a case against the bail granted by the high court.

The bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Oka and J.B. Pardiwala, orally observed that spending hours on bail petitions hearing in the case was a waste of time of the Delhi High Court.

During the hearing, the bench orally remarked that it does not believe in unnecessarily putting people behind bars and bail matters should not go on and on and should not be dealt with in this manner. The bench observed that in bail matters, the hearing gets prolonged the moment one goes into the merits of the case.

The top court was hearing the Delhi Police petitions against the high court's June 15, 2021 judgments granting bail to activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, and Asif Iqbal Tanha in a larger conspiracy in Delhi riots case.

A counsel, representing one of the accused, submitted that the police had argued on the merits before the high court. Nair contested it saying that the police only answered the high court question - whether the act committed by the accused is an act of terror or not.

Justice Kaul orally observed: "You have spent hours in bail matters. It is a complete waste of time for the high court. You want a full trial in bail matters?"

The top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on January 31. It had, in July 2021, pointed out its reluctance to consider cancellation of bail granted to the three activists, who were booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The top court had said that bail petitions were being argued at length debating the provisions of the anti-terror law. It had made it clear that the high court judgments shall not be treated as a precedent and may not be relied upon by any of the parties in any of the proceedings.

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