Seemapuri violence: Bail granted to 12, accused asked to sit with cops ‘to remove CAA doubts’

Anand Mohan J
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The court also observed that the right to protest is a fundamental right in a democracy, but that it does not extend to disturbing public order.

Granting bail to 12 people arrested in connection with the violence in North east Delhi’s Seemapuri during protests against the new citizenship law, a Delhi court directed the accused to appear before the investigating officer or SHO at Seemapuri police station on January 19 between 2 pm and 4 pm, where policemen shall make an “endeavour to remove their doubts pertaining to the CAA”.

The court also observed that the right to protest is a fundamental right in a democracy, but that it does not extend to disturbing public order.

Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Kumar Malhotra granted relief to the accused on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 each and one surety of like amount.

It also directed them to join the investigation as and when required by the investigating officer and not to indulge in “any act which may disturb public peace”.

While granting bail, the court said, “Right to protest is recognised as a fundamental right in a democracy, but this right of peaceful protest and open criticism of government policies do not extend to disturbing the public order i.e. public peace, safety and tranquility. The Constitution of India also prohibits a person from making any statement that incites people to commit an offence”.

When the IO in the case was asked whether any man was shown pelting stones or causing damage on television channels, the IO replied that two men were identified through CCTV footage, but were not depicted in any videos related to stone pelting. The IO named accused Hazi Mehraj of inciting the crowd, snatching a baton from a head constable and giving it to someone else.

The counsel for the accused submitted that there was a delay of more than five hours in registering the FIR, and that while some of the persons accused were not present at the protest site, those who were there were protesting peacefully.

The police, however, had submitted to the court that all accused persons were a part of an unlawful assembly and pelted stones at the police, as a result of which seven police officers sustained injuries and two public vehicles were damaged. The police also claimed that the co-accused are yet to be arrested.

As per court records, the accused were part of a crowd of around 1,000-1,500 persons carrying placards.

When senior police officers tried to pacify them, the crowd resorted to stone pelting, records show.