Delhi court rejects Natasha Narwal’s bail plea

 The court noted that intentional blocking of roads, resulting in violence is a terrorist act

Natasha Narwal

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat disposed of Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal’s bail application on grounds that the allegations against her were “prima facie true”.

The ASJ held, “The entire conspiracy beginning from December 2019 of intentionally blocking roads to cause inconvenience and causing disrupting of supplies of services essential to the life of community of India resulting in violence with various means and then leading to the February incident with the focus being targeted blocking of roads at mixed population areas and creating panic and attack on police personnel with facade of women protesters in front and leading to riots would be covered by the definition of terrorist act.”

He believed that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act had been rightly invoked in the present case noting that, “Acts which threaten the unity and integrity of India, in as much as causing social disharmony and creating terror in any section of the people, by making them feel surrounded resulting in violence, is also a terrorist act. ...Even taking the arguments of the counsel for accused at face value that only one side of the road was blocked, it would still be a complete blockage preventing ingress and egress for the people who are surrounded and for whom panic and terror is created.”

Although freedom to protest including the right to oppose any legislation is guaranteed under the Constitution of India, the court observed that it was not an absolute right. He said, “What actually has to be seen in the context of the present case is whether there was a conspiracy which led to riots under the guise of the protest against CAA or not, in terms of the contents of the chargesheet and the accompanying documents.”

The court also noted that Narwal was part of a larger conspiracy and was part of WhatsApp groups on behalf of Pinjra Tod as per the chargesheet filed against her. “She was in active contact with Devangana Kalita, Ishrat Jahan and others” mentioned the chargesheet. 

It further said, “The accused played an active role in the riots by road blocks and disruptive chakka jam, provocative speeches, instigation of women for stock piling sticks, bottles, acid, stones, chilly powder for the purpose of the riots. Accused was part of a multi layered conspiracy and in regular touch and reporting to the higher conspirator of Delhi Protest Support Group. She had attended DPSG meeting at Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road. The Seelampur Protest site was created and preparation for chakka jam followed by riots in the last week of January itself.”  

The present bail application was moved by Narwal after filing of the chargesheet by Delhi Police. Adit Pujari, counsel for Narwal sought her release on bail on grounds that no offences under UAPA were made out against her. It was inter alia submitted that the strict conditions of Section 43D were introduced to curb mischief after 26/11 terrorist attack after the repeal of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

He argued that the “protest was organic in nature and was also secular”. Perusing the WhatsApp messages, he contended that Narwal was constantly striving for peace and that “the police did not act as per the Police Rules and many persons whose role is larger than that of the applicant, have not even been arrested and thus, even on parity, bail can be given.”

But the prosecution relied on the chargesheet and reiterated that the present case concerned a “multi-layered, multi-organizational” and “deep-rooted conspiracy” and prima facie case under UAPA was made out. It claimed that the riots of February 2020 were not spontaneous and were hatched by several persons including Narwal.

The court finally took the evidence into account and held that there was “sufficient incriminating material” against Natasha Narwal. Placing on record the statements of all protected witnesses, ASJ Amitabh Rawat said, “there is contemporaneous record which cannot be wished away at this stage of bail.”

The order may be read here: 



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