The Delhi High Court ruled on June 15 that student leaders Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal, and Devangana Kalita did not face charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.
The High Court has conducted a factual examination of the allegations in three separate orders granting bail to Tanha, Narwal, and Kalita to determine if a prima facie case is made out against them for the purposes of Section 43D(5) of UAPA. In addition, the High Court made important observations about the fundamental right to protest and the frivolous use of UAPA to stifle citizens’ dissent.
The Delhi Police had filed charges against them, alleging that their protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which began in December 2019, were part of a “larger conspiracy” behind the communal riots in North East Delhi in the last week of February 2020.
Following a preliminary examination of the chargesheet, a High Court bench comprised of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani concluded that the allegations do not prima facie constitute the alleged UAPA offences relating to terrorist activities (Sections 15,17 and 18).
As a result, the division bench ruled that the accused were not subject to the rigours of Section 43D(5) of the UAPA, and thus they were entitled to bail under ordinary principles under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
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