NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Monday said it will hear the Delhi Police’s plea challenging the bail granted to former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan in a case concerning a larger conspiracy behind the February 2020 riots in the city on July 27.
A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar said the appeal of the investigating agency, which assails the trial court order of March 14, be listed on July 27 along with the bail plea of co-accused Umar Khalid.
Jahan, along with several others, has been booked under the anti-terror law — Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) — for being one of the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots in northeast Delhi that had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
The violence erupted during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
In the appeal, police said the trial court order granting bail to Jahan was perverse, against the law and failed to take into account the gravity of the offence and the evidence which suggested that the violence in northeast Delhi erupted pursuant to a conspiracy hatched by her and the other co-accused.
The appeal said the trial court “lost sight of the fact that several people had lost their lives in these riots”, which “disturbed the even tempo of life” and were “prejudicial to the public order”.
It said “apart from undermining national security, their effect was not confined to a few individuals, but impacted a wide spectrum of public”.
“The trial court lost sight of the fact that the respondent being ‘closely connected’ with the other conspirators, played a very active role in the entire conspiracy of organising the so-called protest at the protest site, which resulted in riots, killing numerous people, besides injuries and destruction of property,” the appeal said.
It further said the “disruptive chakka-jam (road blockade)” done by the accused was a terrorist act and that “general disenchantment was sought to be created, affecting the security of the state”.
Freedom of speech and expression does not encompass the right to incite violence or stage violent protests, the plea said.
“A communally surcharged environment was deliberately created by the conspirators, sharply dividing the religious communities, hardening cleavages and eliminating any possibility of consensus, apart from disavowing all belief in the efficacy and worth of the existing system and portraying the political establishment inimical to a religious community,” it added.
“It is submitted that having roused sentiments and created a sense of insecurity, the likelihood that any act or disorder would have the potential of tumultuous consequences could not only be foreseen, but it is apparent that the conspirators desired these consequences, their conduct being clearly resolved to bring about that result having shaped their behaviour to achieve this end.
“The intent to disrupt the feeling of unity and strike terror is clearly obvious. In any event, the likelihood of this could not but be known,” the plea said.
Besides Jahan and Khalid, activist Khalid Saifi, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee member Safoora Zargar, former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have been booked under the stringent UAPA in the case.