New Delhi, July 22 | The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that it is very unlikely that it will be persuaded on both issues — cancellation of bail and the interpretation done in the bail order — in connection with bail granted by the Delhi High Court to student activists, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha.
The activists were arrested in a case of larger conspiracy related to the northeast Delhi riots last year, which claimed the lives of 53 people and left hundreds injured.
A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul queried Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, “One is the issue of bail, and one is the interpretation done in the bail proceeding. This is the question I am seeking to propose… you want them in custody?”
Mehta responded, “We are on both the issues. We will try to convince you on both the points.”
Justice Kaul replied: “Very unlikely, but you can try.”
The bench noted that it is troubled by the lengthy judgment of the Delhi High Court discussing the provisions of law and giving its interpretation on that, which was unwarranted. The top court made it clear that it won’t grant several hours, during hearing, to complete arguments in the matter.
Justice Kaul said one is the issue of bail, and one is the issue of observations, and I don’t understand this political matter.
Mehta replied, “This is not a political matter.”
Justice Kaul responded, “Don’t make me lose my patience. You are not letting me speak. I am only trying to segregate the matter…Should I adjourn the hearing for 6 months?”
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the student activists, sought time to file response in the matter. “The charge sheet runs into 20,000 pages. In the meantime, allow the pen drive to be filed. Otherwise, we will not be able to argue the matter,” submitted Sibal.
After hearing arguments, the top court adjourned the matter by four weeks.
On June 18, the top court had expressed dissatisfaction with Delhi High Court’s 100-page judgment granting bail to one of the three student-activists.
A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Ramasubramanian, pointing at the 100-page judgment delivered by High Court while granting to Asif Iqbal Tanha, observed, “In the 100-page bail judgment discussing all law. This is what is troubling us. We may stay the effect of this order, people (the three activists who were released recently) may not go behind the bars.”
The top court directed that the Delhi High Court orders on bail won’t be treated as a precedent and won’t be relied upon by any parties before any court, and also declined to interfere with the release of the three accused in the matter.