Holding protest not terror act: Delhi High Court

Right to protest is a fundamental right that can’t be termed as a “terrorist act”

Holding protest not terror act: Delhi High Court

Holding that the right to protest is a fundamental right that can’t be termed as a “terrorist act”, the Delhi High Court today granted bail to JNU student Devangana Kalita in a case related to communal violence in northeast Delhi during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. - File photo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15

Holding that the right to protest is a fundamental right that can’t be termed as a “terrorist act”, the Delhi High Court today granted bail to JNU student Devangana Kalita in a case related to communal violence in northeast Delhi during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

By a separate judgment, it also granted bail to another JNU student Natasha Narwal and Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha in a case registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Kalita was arrested along with others in May last year in connection with a case of larger conspiracy related to the riots. A Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said it was constrained to note that in its anxiety to suppress dissent and in the morbid fear that matter may get out of hand, “the state has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity’. If such blurring gains traction, democracy would be in peril”.

On invoking the UAPA against Kalita, it said the court must be careful in employing the definitional words and phrases used in the anti-terror law “in their absolute, literal sense or use them lightly in a manner that would trivialise the extremely heinous offence of ‘terrorist act’, without understanding how terrorism is different from conventional, heinous crime.”

The HC said, “There is absolutely nothing in the subject chargesheet, by way of any specific or particularised allegation, that would show the possible commission of a ‘terrorist act’ within the meaning of Section 15 of the UAPA; or an act of ‘raising funds’ to commit a terrorist act under Section 17; or an act of ‘conspiracy’ to commit or an ‘act preparatory’ to commit, a terrorist act within the meaning of Section 18 of the UAPA,” the Bench said.

Referring to a top court verdict, the HC said “…the effect of terrorist activity must be such that it travels beyond the capacity of the ordinary law enforcement agencies to deal with it under the ordinary penal law.” (With PTI inputs)

3 students get bail in Delhi riots case

  • The high court said the state has blurred the line between the ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity’
  • It granted bail to Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal

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