Anti CAA protests: Gauhati HC denies bail to two booked under UAPA

The High Court Bench ruled that burning down of railway stations and vandalism constitutes a “terrorist act”


The Bench of Justices Kalyan Rai Surana and Ajit Borthakur of the Gauhati High Court, dismissed the bail applications of two citizenship law protestors. The allegation against them was that they disrupted supplies by economic blockage at a railway track and national highway at Chauba in December, 2019 and attempted to murder Government functionaries on duty by throwing stones.

The Bench strictly held, “Despite the well settled principle of ‘bail, not jail’ as indicated at the outset, a conspectus of the discussions above is that the materials available with the charge-sheet disclose existence of materials against the appellants which constitute reasonable grounds for tentatively believing that the accusations made against the appellants of having committed offences of sections 120B, 143, 147, 148, 149, 326, 307, 333, 353, and 427 of the IPC and section 16 of the 1967 Act, punishable under Chapter VI of the 1967 Act are prima facie true and, as such, the appellants cannot be allowed to go on bail as the provisions of section 43D(5) disempowered the Court from releasing them on bail.”

The appellants approached the High Court under section 21 of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008 against the NIA court’s order rejecting their prayer for bail. The prosecution had alleged that on December 9, 2019, around 6,000 people led by activist Akhil Gogoi had gathered to protest the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The group allegedly blocked the railway track as a part of their economic blockade and the effort of the District Administration to remove the blockade went in vain. It was also stated that the leader of the crowd and some others criminally conspired against the police and they threw stones at the informant and his party and as a result one of the stones hit the informant’s mouth for which he sustained grievous injuries.

The chargesheet against the appellants stated that they had provoked the mob to assault and to kill government officials on duty, to burn down government property and to create a fear psychosis amongst people of the State by burning tyres on National highways, State highways and railway station thereby cause economic blockade in various parts the State.

The court observed, “The charge-sheet contains sufficient materials to show that violent activities had been perpetrated in various parts of the State, which had paralysed Government machinery and had also disrupted supply of essential goods in the State, causing economic blockade.”

The Bench also remarked, “The learned counsel for the appellants did not make any attempt to explain as to what sort of peaceful protest was being carried out by the appellant no.1, when he was photographed brandishing a sword before a large crowd while actively participating in the protest programme. 

“By use of violence the appellant led mob had brushed aside the noble concept of non- violent protest, which is popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha and that such conduct of paralysing the Government machinery, causing economic blockade, causing enmity between groups, disruption of public peace an widespread disharmony and dissatisfaction towards the Govt., are acts which are prejudicial for national integration and such acts squarely falls within the definition of “terrorist act” as defined in section 15 of the 1967 Act.”

The court also rejected the submissions made by the appellants that they have a fundamental right to speech and expression and ruled, “The Court is also unable to accept the submissions made by the learned counsel for the appellants that strike calls and speeches made by the appellants fall within freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by Part-III of the Constitution of India because of the fact that the call transcripts, which are accompanying the charge-sheet, clearly indicate that the appellant wanted to protest in such a manner which would disrupt all modes of rail and road transport and to paralyze Government machinery between 09.12.2019 (December 9) to 12.12.2020 (December 12)”.

Rejecting the bail pleas, the court noted that the materials on record prima facie disclose culpability of the appellants and their involvement in the commission of alleged offences mentioned in the chargesheet.

The entire judgment may be read here


Anti CAA protests: Allahabad court protects two accused of sedition from arrest
Anti CAA protesters get bail: Mumbai
Bail to 21 accused of violence in anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru: SC
The anti-CAA and the ongoing farmers’ protests in India: Similar protests, different outcomes



Related Articles