'Reading down UAPA may have pan-India ramifications': SC refuses to stay bail of three activists

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Reading down of anti-terror law is an important issue and may have pan-India ramifications, the Supreme Court noted on Friday and issued a notice in the Delhi Police's plea against the Delhi High Court order granting bail to student activists Asif Iqbal Tanha, and Natasha Narwal, and Devangana Kalita, accused under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the Delhi riots case.

The apex court sought responses from three student activists granted bail by the Delhi High Court in the northeast Delhi riots case.

The three had been granted bail by the Delhi High Court in connection with the Delhi riots case and were released from Tihar Jail on Thursday, two days after their bail order was passed.

The high court judgement will "not to be treated as precedent by any Court" to give similar reliefs, the apex court said while hearing Delhi Police appeal against the bail.

Dictating the order, the two-judge vacation bench said that a counter affidavit has to be filed within four weeks by all parties. The matter will now be listed in the week commencing 19 July.

A vacation bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian made it clear however that the bails granted to these student activists will not be affected for the time being.

As per Bar&Bench, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi also called for a stay of the order, saying that it imports ambiguity in Section 15 of UAPA, which defines terrorism.

Justice Gupta said, "We understand the way the Act has been interpreted [by the High Court] requires to be examined."

Taking note of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's submission that the entire anti-terror law, UAPA, has been turned upside down by the Delhi High Court while granting bail to these activists, the bench said what is troubling it was that 100 pages of the verdict have been rendered while granting bail and judgment discussed the entire law.

According to The Indian Express, Mehta also said there were statements of the witnesses calling for creating problems during the visit of then US President Donald Trump.

The high court had on 15 June granted bail to JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha saying that in anxiety to suppress dissent the State has blurred the line between the right to protest and terrorist activity and if such a mindset gains traction, it would be a "sad day for democracy".

The high court, in three separate judgments, set aside the trial court's orders denying bail to student activists and allowed their appeals by admitting them to regular bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each along with two sureties of the like amount.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Delhi HC critical of police for slapping UAPA against Pinjra Tod activists: All you need to know about the law

Delhi riots: Activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Asif Iqbal Tanha released from Tihar jail on bail

'State anxious to suppress dissent': Delhi HC grants bail to Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita in UAPA case

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