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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Delhi Police oppose Safoora Zargar bail: Pregnancy is no ground

Police, in its response, submitted that as many as “39 deliveries have taken place in Delhi prisons in the last 10 years”.

Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi | Updated: June 23, 2020 2:07:36 am
safoora zargar, jamia student, safoora zargar pregnant, delhi riots accused, delhi police, indian express Safoora Zargar was arrested by the Special Cell on April 10

Safoora Zargar’s pregnancy cannot be grounds to grant her bail, the Delhi Police told the High Court Monday, while opposing the plea by the Jamia Coordination Committee’s media coordinator, who has been arrested in a case related to communal violence in Northeast Delhi.

The contention was made in the status report filed by Delhi Police’s counsels Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair before Justice Rajiv Shakdher, who was hearing the bail plea.

The 27-year-old was arrested by the Special Cell on April 10 and is facing a UAPA case in connection with the riots. In her bail plea, she raised her pregnancy as one of the grounds for relief.

Police, in its response, submitted that as many as “39 deliveries have taken place in Delhi prisons in the last 10 years”.

“Insofar as ground of pregnancy by the accused to seek bail from this court is concerned, it is respectfully submitted that it is not even the case of the petitioner that she is not being granted proper care during custody.

“It is submitted that… there is no exception carved out for pregnant inmate who is accused of such heinous crime to be released on bail merely because of their pregnancy. To the contrary, the law provides for adequate safeguards and medical attention during their custody in jail…,” police said in their status report.

“It is submitted that the very fact of rearing of life ought to have been a check on activities which had a potential to cause, and which did in fact cause, large-scale destruction of life and property,” it said.

The hearing was adjourned for Tuesday.

The hearing also witnessed exchange of words between the Delhi government’s senior standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra and additional solicitor general (ASG) Aman Lekhi.

Mehra objected to Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta and ASG Lekhi’s appearance in Zargar’s bail plea, submitting that unlike other Delhi violence matters — in which requisite approval was sought by Delhi Police to be represented by a team of lawyers led by the SG — no such procedure was followed in this case.

Mehra submitted that Delhi Police should move for requisite approval from the competent government authority and they will get approval. He said, “Police want different counsel, as they know that I will have a different view. I will have a more humanitarian approach in such matters and will not act as per their whims and fancies.”

“Am I supposed to be the mouthpiece of the Delhi Police? I am an officer of the court. As a prosecutor, I don’t have to toe the line of the prosecuting agency. I will have to function independently,” Mehra said.

ASG Lekhi replied: “The client chooses the lawyer. It is not that the lawyer imposes himself on the client.” Lekhi said this controversy would deviate the court from the issue at hand and Mehra’s objection can be kept aside in this case.

After both law officers made their submissions, the court said the petitioner is not concerned about who will appear for the Delhi Police. “Settle your battle outside the court,” the judge said.

Zargar’s counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan, meanwhile, sought interim bail on the ground that her client is in a delicate state and is in a fairly advanced stage of her pregnancy.

After the trial court on June 4 dismissed her bail application, Zargar had moved the HC against the order.

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