Delhi riots: High Court prepones Jamia student Tanha’s bail plea in UAPA case

A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and A J Bhambhani advanced the date of hearing Tanha’s petition from March 12 to February 25.

The Delhi High Court on Friday allowed a plea by Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, seeking advancement of his bail petition in connection with a case related to larger conspiracy in the north east Delhi riots last year.

A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and A J Bhambhani advanced the date of hearing Tanha’s petition from March 12 to February 25.

The court allowed the early hearing application noting that special public prosecutors Amit Mahajan and Amit Prasad fairly did not oppose the plea.

Advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, representing Tahna, sought advancement of the date of hearing of the petition on the ground that he is a student and has already undergone detention for 263 days.

Tanha has challenged a trial court’s October 26, 2020 order by which his bail application was dismissed on the ground that he allegedly played an active role in the entire conspiracy and that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the allegations against were prima facie true.

Tanha was arrested in the case in May last year for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the riots.

The high court, while allowing the early hearing application, directed the parties to complete the pleading before the next date, that is, February 25.

The high court has sought response from the Delhi Police on Tanha’s bail plea.

Tanha’s counsel has sought bail saying that he has been in custody since May 2020 and even the charge sheet has been filed.

The trial court, in its October 26, last year order, had said that since there were reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against accused Asif Iqbal Tanha were prima facie true, hence, the embargo created by Section 43D of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) applied for grant of bail to the accused and the bail application was dismissed.

Under section 43 D of UAPA, an accused should not be released on bail or on his own bond if the court was of the opinion that the accusation against such person was prima facie true.

Tanha’s counsel had claimed before the trial court that he was not present in Delhi during the riots and did not visit any of the protest sites where rioting and violence occurred.

The counsel had further contended that there was no physical evidence connecting Tanha to the riots and no allegations with respect to any funds being received by him for terrorist activities.

The prosecutor had opposed the bail plea saying there were statements of protected witnesses in the case which clearly showed the alleged role of Tanha in the conspiracy.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 last year after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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