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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Deep Sidhu gets bail as court frowns on continued jail, rearrested later

Hours later, the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch arrested Sidhu over the charge of damaging the monument.

Written by Anand Mohan J , Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
April 18, 2021 1:15:29 am
Deep Sidhu, Deep Sidhu bail, Farmers protests, Deep Sidhu lawyer's statement in court, Delhi news, Indian expressDeep Sidhu with officers of Special Cell in Janakpuri, New Delhi. (Express photo: Tashi Tobgyal/File)

A Delhi court Saturday granted bail to Punjabi actor-activist Deep Sidhu, arrested in connection with the violence at Red Fort on Republic Day, saying that the prosecution had sought to make an example of him since he was popular, but that this “hazards a failure of justice”, and that his continued detention was infringement of his right to life and liberty. Hours later, the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch arrested Sidhu over the charge of damaging the monument.

In the bail order, Special Judge Neelofer Abida Perveen said it would “violate and infringe the fundamental right to life and liberty as guaranteed to the accused-applicant” if he is denied bail on the nature of accusations and material alone, with the police yet to identify the 1,000-plus people who had been part of the mob at Red Fort. Sidhu has been under arrest since February 9.

None of the acts of violence reported in the case had been attributed to him, the court added. Judge Perveen said the prosecution “seeks to make an example out of the case of the accused-applicant, he being a popular public figure… Such an endeavour however hazards a failure of justice as a result of compromised objectivity”.

The court added that the police have seized clothes and a vehicle used by Sidhu to reach the spot, and “further incarceration for the sole purpose of voice sampling is not justifiable”. Noting that the prosecution case rests largely on contents of video recordings on social media, the court said there was only a “remote possibility” that Sidhu would tamper with the content.

Soon after the court order, a team of the Delhi Police Crime Branch arrested Sidhu from Tihar Jail, where he is lodged, in connection with an FIR lodged late in January by the Archaeological Survey of India, under Sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, Prevention of Insults to National Honours Act and the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, Arms Act, rioting etc. He will be produced before a judge on Sunday.

The FIR, that doesn’t name Sidhu or any other protester, has an archaeologist with the ASI as the complainant. The FIR states that on January 26, a mob of 200-300 protesters had come to the Red Fort. “The mob turned to damage the ticket counters, door frame metal detectors and the baggage scanners… The huge iron door within Lahori Gate was firmly secured with an iron chain and lock. The mob climbed over this iron door and jumped inside and thereafter broke the chain lock with the help of iron tools… Once inside, some of the protesters broke the electrical fittings of the illumination lights and the stone casing around them… Three tractors also managed to make their entry into the Red Fort premises. A section of the mob then charged towards the ramparts and forcefully hoisted a flag on the pole where the Hon’ble PM hoists the National Flag on Independence Day… In the process… two of the seven small burjis (domes) were removed,” reads the FIR.

Sidhu’s lawyer Abhishek Gupta called the “need and timing of the arrest extremely questionable” and said it is “a grave affront to personal liberty of an individual and runs foul of rights guaranteed under Article 21”.

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