Delhi High Court: After jailed activist Natasha Narwal’s father Mahavir Narwal breathed his last owing to COVID-19, the bench of Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani, JJ has released Natasha Narwal on interim bail for 3 weeks. While doing so, the Court said,

“… the release of the applicant/appellant is imperative in this hour of grief and personal loss and in the facts and circumstances of the case.”

Natasha had originally sought bail on the ground that her aged father had been hospitalised on account of having tested ‘positive’ for COVID-19 virus and that her brother, who was hitherto taking care of the father, had also tested ‘positive’ for Covid-19 subsequently and was consequently unable to take care of their aged, ailing father. The Court was, however, informed that Natasha’s father passed away on 09.05.2021.

Considering that Mahavir Narwal was survived only by his daughter, Natasha and a son, who was in self-isolation owing to COVID-19 infection; the Court took note of the fact that there is nobody else in the family to perform his cremation and last rites. Natasha’s mother passed away some 21 years ago.

The Court, hence, directed Natasha’s release on the following conditions:

“1) The appellant/applicant shall furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs. 50,000/- to the satisfaction of the Jail Superintendent. In view of the circumstance that her sole sibling Mr. Akash Narwal is currently in self-isolation by reason of being afflicted by COVID-19 and the appellant/applicant has already furnished sureties towards bail granted to her in FIR No. 50/2020 at P.S.: Jafrabad and FIR No. 48/2020 at P.S.: Jaffrabad, the appellant/ applicant is exempted from filing any surety;

2) The appellant/applicant will provide a cell phone number to the SHO, P.S.: Crime Branch (Special Cell) on which she may be contacted at any time, which she undertakes to keep operational during the entire period of her release. In addition, the appellant/ applicant shall also furnish a cell phone number to the SHO, PS : Urban Estate, Rohtak, Haryana, which is stated to have jurisdiction over the place of the appellant/applicant’s residence at 1225, Sector-3, Rohtak, Haryana;

3) The appellant/applicant shall comply with all governmental rules in force by reason of the prevailing pandemic and observe all precautions as stipulated therein without demur, including but not limited to wearing a PPE kit at the time of the cremation;

4) The appellant/applicant shall not leave the territories of the State of Delhi and Haryana without permission of the court and shall ordinarily reside at the address as per prison records/as mentioned in the application;

5) The applicant/appellant shall surrender before the Jail Authorities upon expiry of the period of interim bail;

6) Not earlier that 03 days before the time of her surrender, the applicant/appellant shall undergo an RT-PCR test for COVID-19 and shall provide to the Jail Superintendent a copy of such report.”

Natasha was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for an alleged ‘premeditated conspiracy’ in the northeast Delhi riots in February, 2020 and has remained behind bars at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail since May last year.

[Natasha Narwal v. State of Delhi NCT, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1960 , order dated 10.05.2021]

Appearances before the Court by:

For Applicant: Advocates Adit S. Pujari, Tusharika Mattoo and Kunal Negi

For State:  SPP Amit Prasad, Amit Mahajan, and Rajat Nair and Advocates Dhruv Pande and Shantanu Sharma

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