[Farmer’s Protest] Is presence of accused at the Red Fort a very grave offence and non-bailable? Tis Hazari Courts grants bail to the person accused of Red Fort violence

Tis-hazari

Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi: Kamini Lau PO (MACT)-01, granted bail to the applicant Boota Singh, accused of inciting violence and disturbing law and order at Red Fort during Republic Day protest against controversial farm laws.

The applicant had approached the Court for the grant of regular bail. It was pleaded by the applicant that he had no previous criminal antecedents and that no specific role had been assigned to him in the FIR. The applicant further submitted that nothing incriminating was recovered from the possession of the applicant or at his instance and there was no chance of his absconding or tampering with the case or its evidence.

Background

On 26-01-2021 law and order arrangement was enforced in and around the Red Fort in respect of Republic Day Celebration 2021 and proposed Tractor Rally in protest of 03 Agriculture Bills, as demonstrations were being organised at various borders of capital Delhi by the different groups of Kisan Organisations. In order to maintain law & order, police authorities accorded permission for Tractor Rally with the conditions that rally may be held on prescribed routes which were decided during discussions with Kisan Organisations. However, around 1000 1200 persons in 40-50 Tractors, 125-150 motorcycles and private vehicles reached Shanti Van Red Light and tried to break the barricades in order to reach Red Fort. The protestors were also asked to maintain social distancing, in view of Covid-19 pandemic guidelines, but the same were ignored and the protestors broke the baricades with the blunt force of tractors and drove their tractors rashly, negligently and even tried to hit the police personnel deployed on duty. Thereafter, unruly mob broke the barricading at Subhash Marg T-Point, upper and lower Sulbhash Marg and reached Lal Qila Chowk and started shouting slogans against government and indulged in creating nuisance.

It was submitted by the Investigating Officer (IO) that a large numbers of protestors gathered at the Red Fort and started entering inside from Lahore Gate. The agitated mob started beating the police personnel, climbed the Rampart and unfurled the religious flag at the Pole. The protestors said to have attacked on police staff by hurling stones, beating by sticks and even attacking with swords. The riotous mob caused damage to the government vehicles and public property and forced police and security personnel to jump into the moat to save their lives. It was submitted by the IO that the mob robbed body protecting gears like cane stick, shields, helmets etc. from the staff deployed there, destroyed public property at large, robbed arms and ammunition etc, caused hindrance in the celebration of Republic Day by creating mayhem.

Case against the Accused

The specific case against the accused was that during investigations one of the absconding accused namely Gurjot Singh was arrested and at his instance the present applicant/ accused Boota Singh who was also absconding, was arrested. It was pointed out that a cash rewards of Rs. 50,000 was declared on the applicant by the Commissioner of Police, Delhi. The bail of the applicant was opposed on the following grounds:

  1. “There is a video clipping available on case record, wherein applicant/ accused Boota Singh is seen alongside other accused.
  2. In another video clippings on record the accused is seen as part of mob at Red Fort.
  3. CDR of the applicant/ accused revealed that he was present at the Red Fort during farmers agitation on 26-01-202.
  4. The applicant was moving alongside the unruly mob, which started its journey from Singhu Border and reached Red Fort.”

Observations and Findings of the Court

Observing that recently the Delhi High Court while dealing with the bail applications of Natasha Narwal, Devanganakaleta and Asif Iqbal who were arrested for unlawful activities in relation to North-East riots, observed that, “at a time when the society is polarized and fractured across various lines and ideology reached vanishing point, the Court will do all within their mandate to prevent the misuse of the law and alleviate the anxiety which has come to surround these individuals” and that, “the Courts do not function in a vacuum and our judges surely have a view on what is happening around them and that the India democracy is undergoing metamorphosis”; the Court opined that the only allegations against the applicant were that he was a part of an unruly mob which completely disregarded and violated the conditions laid down in the permission / NOC for Tractors Rally by reaching Red Fort illegally. During the course of arguments, a specific query was put by the court as to what was the specific role attributed to the applicant in the Red Fort incident, to which the Investigating Officer submitted that the videos and photographs only show the presence of the applicant at Red Fort.

Noticing that there was no material on record to show that the applicant was involved in any kind of violence or attacking the police officials, the Court asked the IO, if the presence of the accused at the Red Fort was a very grave offence and non bailable, to which the  Investigating Agency appeared clueless. Therefore, the Court held that the allegations against the applicant were of bailable nature.

Directions

Noticeably, 15 accused out of 18 arrested had been granted bail in the same matter. In fact, the main conspirators as per the Delhi Police namely Deep Sandhu and Iqbal Singh had already been granted bail. Moreover, the allegations relating to snatching away the magazine of MP-5 Weapon and a SLR containing 20 live cartridges were general in nature and not specifically against the applicant. Hence, on the grounds of parity, the applicant was granted bail on him furnishing a personal bond to the tune of Rs.50,000 on the following conditions:

  1. The applicant shall appear before the local SHO Le. SHO Police Station Gharyala, Tarn Taran, Punjab on last Saturday till filing of the charge-sheet and the same shall be communicated regularly to the Investigating Officer.
  2. That the applicant/ accused shall share his mobile phone number with the IO
  3. That the applicant accused shall inform about his location to the Investigating Officer over mobile phone on lst and I5th day of every month till filing of the charge-sheet.
  4. That the applicant/ accused shall surrender his passport, if any, before the IO.

[State v. Boota Singh, Bail Application No. 2960/2021, decided on 08-07-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For State: Addl. P.P. Pankaj Bhatia

For the Applicant: Advocate Jaspreet Singh Rai, Advocate Jagdeep Singh Dhillon, Advocate

Kapil Madan, Advocate Nitin Kumar and Advocate Gurmukh Singh

Investigating Officer: Inspector Pankaj Arora

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