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Delhi riots: HC asks Pinjra Tod member to consider if she wishes bail hearing after charge sheet filing

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday asked a member of the Pinjra Tod, a women’s collective, to consider if she wishes her bail application to be heard after two weeks when a charge sheet is likely to be filed for her alleged role in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in February.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru noted that the police have two weeks’ time left to conclude investigation in the case and they will have to file the charge sheet by September 17 before the trial court after which the bail plea can be filed there.

The high court was hearing a bail plea by JNU student Natasha Narwal, who was arrested in May and has challenged a trial court’s order denying her the relief.

“As far as this petitioner (Narwal) is concerned, a charge sheet will be filed within the time given then you will have the entire material with you which this court has with it right now. We are of the prime facie view that there is evidence against you,” the judge orally said during the hearing.

The judge said till now it has perused 20 per cent of the case diary of the police and it was of the prima facie that there is material against Narwal and the material is such which it do not think any court can ignore.

The high court, which said it will go through the case diary in detail, asked advocate Adit S Pujari, appearing for Narwal, to seek instructions from his client and apprise the court about it on Tuesday.

Initially during the day, the high court conducted a restricted video conferencing hearing in which the counsel representing Delhi Police and the investigating officer of the case were present and the judge perused the case diary. Narwal’s counsel was not privy to the details of the case diary.

The high court had earlier issued notice to the Delhi Police on the plea challenging a trial court’s order which had dismissed the bail application of JNU student Natasha Narwal.

Narwal and another member of the group Devangana Kalita were arrested in the case in May this year by the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police and booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including rioting, unlawful assembly and attempt to murder.

They have also been booked under the stringent anti-terror law – Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a separate case related to the communal violence, for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the riots.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

In all, four cases have been registered against Kalita, including in relation to the northeast Delhi riots earlier this year and violence in old Delhi’s Daryaganj area during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December last year. Narwal is accused in three cases.

On June 14, a trial court had dismissed bail pleas of Narwal and Kalita on the ground that there was no merit in the applications and that it was amply clear from the charge sheet that the investigation was still pending and it has been filed against other accused persons also.

It had said that considering the investigation so far and the nature of the offence and the role being ascribed to the accused, there were no reasons at all to grant bail.

The trial court was informed that the charge sheet has been filed against 10 persons in the case and investigation qua the accused persons was still being done. Kalita has also challenged the trial court’s order denying her bail and the high court has reserved its decision on the plea.

Pinjra Tod (Break the Cage) was founded in 2015 with an aim to make hostels and paying guest accommodations less restrictive for women students. 

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