Delhi court passes release order for Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, Asif Iqbal Tanha

All three students were arrested in May last year under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with the case related to a large conspiracy in the northeast Delhi riots which broke out in February last year.

A Delhi court on Thursday finally passed the release orders for Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, and student Asif Iqbal Tanha after the three students moved the court seeking forthwith release from jail, two days after the trio was granted bail by the Delhi high court in connection with the northeast Delhi riots case. The students urged in their pleas for immediate release from prison, pointing out that more than 36 hours have passed since they were granted bail by the court.

A Delhi high court bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and AJ Bhambhani commenced hearing on the pleas on this day and issued directions for the trial court on the release of the three students — Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, and Asif Iqbal Tanha. Additional Sessions Judge Ravindra Bedi said that she has passed the release order at 11 am as scheduled even when the counsels of all the parties said that they were not aware of the order. A detailed reasoned order is awaited.

In its bail order two days ago, the Delhi high court had noted that the allegations raised against the students do not prima facie disclose the commission of any offense under sections of the UAPA. Thereby, additional restrictions on the grant of bail do not apply, the court ruled. The Delhi high court also noted that the line between terrorist activity and the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest is getting “somewhat blurred” in the mind of the State, “in its anxiety to suppress dissent”.

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