Show proof of Devangana Kalita ‘creating nuisance’: HC to cops
The Delhi high court on Friday, while reserving its order on the bail plea of Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita, in connection with the communal violence in north-east Delhi in February, asked the Delhi Police why they did not have any video of Kalita making instigating speeches.
Justice Suresh Kait said that if Kalita had been “creating a nuisance since 2019”, the police should have collected some evidence against her.
“Do you have anything to show that the speeches she made were troublesome? Don’t you think that you should have recorded or kept some evidence since she has been allegedly making a nuisance since 2019,” the court asked the police.
Kait also remarked that during the riots, “the media was everywhere and had recorded everything”.
“Show me any portion of the speech recorded by the media or anyone else which showed that Kalita instigated the mob to commit the crime...I want to know what she said that instigated the mob,” Kait said.
The crime branch had arrested Kalita and another member of the group in May for their role in an anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protest, which led to violent clashes in Jafrabad during the north-east Delhi riots. The two were booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code, including rioting, unlawful assembly and delivering inflammatory speeches.
The investigating officer (IO) told the court that Kalita’s video could not be taken as she was about a kilometre away, behind the Jafrabad Metro station, while their camera person was positioned in the front.
To this, the judge said, “Then how did you hear that she (Kalita) was making instigating speeches?”
The IO responded that the station house officer had gone to the rear of the station when he heard her instigating the crowd.
Appearing for Kalita, senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the court that she had been falsely implicated and had not made any instigating speech even though she had participated in the protest. He said there was no evidence proving her guilt, and that she had already been granted bail in two of the four FIRs.
He played a video in the court to show that the police were recording the protest and said the officials were still not showing any videos to the court. He said the videos do not have any inflammatory speech.
“Accused in not a politician. She is an academician and a research scholar. She has already been granted bail in two cases. Let the police show us the video and the hate speech,” Sibal submitted.
Countering his submissions, additional solicitor general (ASG) SV Raju told the court that just because she had been granted bail did not mean that she was innocent. He said Kalita delivered speeches which led to widespread riots in the city and was also part of an unlawful assembly.
Raju said there was no media on February 25 when the incident in question happened and the witness accounts showed Kalita’s role in instigating the mob.
Kalita has been arrested in four cases related to communal riots in north-east Delhi in February and has been charged with the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her alleged role in hatching a conspiracy along with other accused persons.
The Delhi Police have said that the riots were planned by some anti-CAA protesters, who blocked the road and made inflammatory speeches to incite people. The arrested anti-CAA protesters, who are students, student activists, and local politicians, have denied the police’s allegations and said that the police have launched a witch-hunt against the Citizenship Law protesters.
The violence claimed 53 lives and left several others injured.