Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat continued to hear the bail application filed by former Congress councillor and lawyer Ishrat Jahan, who has been accused in last year’s conspiracy case of North East Delhi violence. The next date for the hearing is now August 2, 2021, where the Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad will start his arguments, opposing Jahan’s bail plea.
Pradeep Teotia, senior counsel appearing for Ishrat Jahan, argued that there is no evidence against her in the conspiracy case to be booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Jahan has been charged under sections 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (punishment for terrorist act), 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and 18 (punishment for conspiracy) of the UAPA. He argued that Ishrat has been falsely implicated and is not a hardliner, as projected by the Delhi Police.
Teotia further argued, “I (Ishrat Jahan) was victorious counsellor from a ward where Muslims were are in a minority. She was the only woman to win. She was victorious because of her secular image. I have participated in both Hindu and Sikh processions. They have projected me as a hardliner, but I have been popular in all events, there is no connection with the conspiracy.”
He added, “She was a popular lady, there is not a single iota of evidence to suggest that she was attached to this conspiracy. The prosecution and the investigation agency have no evidence that can qualify to put her behind bars under UAPA. There is no bar on bail for Ishrat.” He also referred to the time last year, when Ishrat was granted interim bail for her wedding between June 10 to June 19, to contend that she did not attempt to influence any witness.
He then referred to Jahan’s financial transactions in 2019 and told the court that her “pattern of financial withdrawal and deposit has not changed”, and that the police does not have any qualitative evidence against her. He informed the court that the Police had failed to show any evidence in totality. “The evidence is piecemeal and not in totality. If shown properly, it will be proved that I am not guilty”, he said while concluding his arguments.
Ishrat was initially arrested on February 26, 2020, on charges of inciting violence, rioting and attempt to murder under the Indian Penal Code. After spending a month in judicial custody, Ishrat along with four others were granted bail by Additional Sessions Judge Manjusha Wadhwa on March 21, 2020. The court had noted that the role assigned to Ishrat is that she incited the crowd to remain present at the protest spot as well as raised slogans of freedom, however, no overt act had been imputed to her regarding taking law into her own hands.
On the same day, she was re-arrested under UAPA charges and has remained in jail since then. For a brief period of 10 days, she was released on interim bail on account of her wedding in June last year. Ishrat had moved for interim bail in November, which was rejected by the Delhi Sessions Court.
Over the past few months, bail applications to several of those young leaders accused of a ‘conspiracy’ behind the Delhi 2020 violence have been heard. While in 2020 most cases were rejected by lower courts, on June 15, 2021 three such activists, Asif Iqbal Tabha, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal were granted bail by a division bench of the Delhi high court. In landmark verdicts the Court held that the offences, if at all made out did not fall under the ambit of “terrorist act” as defined under the UAPA. An analysis of the Delhi High Court verdict may be read here and here.
This story first appeared on sabrangindia.in