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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Deep Sidhu granted bail, court calls second arrest ‘vicious and sinister action’

The court said that despite knowing that the accused has been lodged in judicial custody since February 9, 2021, he was arrested only on April 17, 2021, when he was granted regular bail.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: April 26, 2021 11:31:25 am
Deep Sidhu, Deep Sidhu gets bail, R-Day violence case, Delhi news, Farmers protests, Delhi courts grants bail to Sidhu, Indian expressPunjabi actor-activist Deep Sidhu. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

A Delhi court Monday granted bail to Punjabi actor-activist Deep Sidhu in a second case related to the violence on Republic Day. Calling his arrest, right after being granted bail in the first case related to the same incident, a “vicious and sinister action”, the court said it “amounts to playing fraud with the established criminal process.”

Reliever Metropolitan Magistrate Sahil Gupta granted bail to Sidhu in connection with the damage caused to the Red Fort monument during the farmers’ protest by observing that “the need and timing of the arrest is highly questionable”.

There are two FIRs that have been registered against Sidhu in connection with the violence on Republic Day. In the first FIR, he was granted bail by a sessions court and hours later he was arrested by the Crime Branch in connection with the second FIR.

The court said that despite knowing that the accused has been lodged in judicial custody since February 9, he was arrested only on April 17, when he was granted regular bail.

“This clearly suggests that it was an attempt to defeat the bail order…of the…ASJ and is a grave affront to the personal liberty of the accused and runs foul of rights guaranteed under Article 21. Such vicious and sinister action of investigative authorities amounts to playing fraud with established criminal process and shows scant regard to constitutional protections enshrined, protected and cherished under the Constitution on India,” the court said.

“The sweeping power of investigation does not warrant subjecting a citizen each time to a fresh investigation by the police in respect of the same incident, giving rise to one or more cognizable offences, consequent upon the filing of successive FIRs whether before or after filing the final report,” the court added.

“Fresh investigation based on the second and successive FIRs, not being a counter case, filed in connection with the same or connected cognizable offence alleged to have been committed in the course of the same transaction and in respect of which pursuant to the first FIR either investigation is underway or fine report under section 173(2) has been forwarded to the magistrate, is an abuse or process and impermissible,” the court said.

The court also said, “I am of the considered opinion that Applicant’s further incarceration in the present case would bear no fruit and therefore, would be unjustified, nor would the restoration of Applicant’s liberty be detrimental to the investigation being conducted by the police authorities. The accused has already been interrogated in the Poluce custody for 14 days and has been in custody for about 70 days when he has been granted regular bail by Ld. ASJ on similar facts. Any further restraint upon his liberty would be neither logical nor legal.”

The court, in its order, said that “from prima facie perusal of contents of both the FIRs, it appears that the allegations levelled against the accused are similar.”

The court said that the first FIR, in which he was granted bail by a sessions court, “provides a comprehensive overview of the incident relating to violence and alleged damage caused to the Red Fort on the Republic Day and the present FIR merely reiterates the allegations, against the accused, as to the damage caused to the Red Fort.”

Sidhu’s lawyer Abhishek Gupta had told the court that Sidhu has been in custody for over 70 days and every single day was a “grave affront” to his rights under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Additional Public Prosecutor, Rajiv Kamboj, who appeared for the state, had told the court that “Red Fort is an ancient monument. They defaced and destroyed it. As per the videos, he (Sidhu) played an active role. Since the case is a sensitive one, bail should not be granted”.

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