Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi: Kamini Lau PO (MACT)-01, granted bail to the applicant Maninder Singh, accused of severely attacking and assaulting policemen on duty with his sword near the main entrance of Red Fort during Republic Day protest against controversial farm laws. The Judge stated,
“I have also gone through the photographs and the videos placed on record and relied upon by the prosecution and I may observe that the face of the applicant/ accused Maninder Singh is not very clear from the same.”
The accused, who had been in judicial custody since 17-02-2021 with regard to Red Fort violence had approached the Court for seeking regular bail on the ground of parity as one co-accused, Khempreet Singh whose role was similar to that of the applicant, had already been granted bail. The accused pleaded that one Jugraj who was allegedly absconding and against whom allegation was of hoisting Nishan Sahib had also been granted interim protection.
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.
The Investigating Officer (IO) submitted 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.
The IO had opposed the regular bail application of applicant accused Maninder Singh on the following grounds:
- “Two co-accused had identified the accused Maninder Singh as one and the same person, who accompanied them to Red Fort along with the unruly mob.
- There are CCTV Footages available on record, wherein accused is seen severely attacking and assaulting policemen on duty with his sword near main entrance of RedFort i.e., Lahore Gate.
- In one video clipping applicant accused is seen severely attacking & assaulting policemen duty with his sword in the Well Area of Red Fort.
- In another such videos, applicant accused is seen waiving two swords on the Rampart of Red Fort during Farmers Agitation on 26.01.2021.
- Applicant accused is also seen carrying sword in one of the Burjl tomb (where national flag hoists throughout the year) at the flag guard area.”
Opinion and Findings the Court
Observing that recently the Delhi High Court while dealing with the bail applications of Natasha Narwal, Devangana kalita 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 the charge-sheet against the accused had already been filed and he was no longer required for investigations, and that from the photographs and the videos placed on record the face of the applicant was not very clear; the Court asked the IO, “if carrying a Pharsa or Talwar by Sikhs and Nihangs are prohibited” upon which they were not very sure. The Court also raised a question as to “if the presence of the accused at the Red Fort was a very grave offence and non-bailable” of which the Investigating Agency was also not very sure. The Court held that most of these offences were bailable and 15 accused out of 18 arrested had been granted bail in the same matter.
Consequently, the Court was of the view that the accused was a resident of Delhi and was not involved in any other case; and that the similarly placed co-accused Khempreet Singh against whom same allegations had been made, had already been granted bail. In fact the main conspirators as per the Delhi Police namely Deep Sandhu and Iqbal Singh had already been granted bail. Therefore, without making any observations on merits, the accused Maninder Singh was granted bail on him furnishing a personal bond to the tune of Rs.50,000 on the following conditions:
- “The accused shall appear before the SHO concened on last Saturday of next four months and in case if he leaves Delhi, he shall intimate the same to the SHO Kotwali on phone;
- The accused shall share his mobile phone number with the IO.
- The accused shall surrender his passport, if any, before the IO.
- The applicant shall intimate the court in case of change of his address.”
[State v. Maninder Singh, Bail Application No. 2970 of 2021, decided on 08-07-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
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