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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Greta Thunberg Toolkit case: Lawyer Jacob, her aide move Bombay HC for bail

Jacob's lawyer mentioned the matter before Justice P D Naik and sought urgent hearing after a Delhi Police team went to her home in Mumbai on February 11.

Written by Omkar Gokhale , Sadaf Modak , Sagar Rajput | Mumbai |
Updated: February 16, 2021 7:48:10 am
Nikita Jacob has sought interim protection from coercive steps by police, and a copy of the FIR filed in Delhi. (Source: Twitter/@nikitajacob)

Activists Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk, against whom non-bailable warrants have been issued in Delhi in connection with the Greta Thunberg ‘toolkit’ case, have moved Bombay High Court for transit anticipatory bail. Their pleas will be heard on Tuesday.

Jacob has sought interim protection from coercive steps by police, and a copy of the FIR filed in Delhi.

Jacob’s lawyer mentioned the matter before Justice P D Naik and sought urgent hearing after a Delhi Police team went to her home in Mumbai on February 11.

Muluk, who belongs to Beed district, has submitted before the Aurangabad Bench of the High Court that Delhi Police personnel have been stationed in the district for the past three days, and have seized a lot of material without following due procedure.

The police have also been pressuring his elderly parents, Muluk has told the court. He has sought transitory anticipatory bail as a “rightful chance to preserve rights in all humanity” before making his submissions in court in Delhi.

Delhi Police have claimed that Jacob, Muluk, and 22-year-old Bengaluru resident Disha Ravi, who was arrested on Sunday, created the ‘toolkit’ document on the farmers’ protest which was shared on social media by the Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. According to police, Disha sent the toolkit to Thunberg on the messaging app Telegram.

In her plea to the High Court, Jacob has said that the Cyber Cell of Delhi Police, accompanied by personnel from Vanrai police station in Goregaon (East) in Mumbai, had come to her home with a search warrant, and seized personal documents and electronic gadgets.

“The applicant has no religious, political or financial motive or agenda for researching, discussing, editing and circulating communication packs/toolkits for raising awareness, let alone to incite violence, riots or/and cause other physical harms,” says the plea, filed on February 12.

Jacob has also said that trolls and bots were circulating her personal information, including pictures, on social media.

Jacob has said that has she learnt from social media sources that an entity by the name of Legal Rights Observatory appears to have filed a “false and baseless” complaint with Delhi Police, seeking to “pin the blame” for the violence in the capital on January 26 on her, among others.

“…Untrustworthy and unethical news channels have been violating the applicant’s privacy and dissecting her personal information whilst also alleging absolute lies to incite hate and violence against applicant have ties with political parties like AAP,” says the application.

It says that Jacob apprehends that she might be arrested in a “false and frivolous” case. “The applicant has not committed any crime, as appears to have alleged or otherwise. The applicant is unable to defend herself as she is a permanent resident of the address in Mumbai and the alleged complaint/FIR is lodged in Delhi and contents of same are not known to the applicant.”

Jacob has said that she has cooperated with the investigation, and that the police have taken her statement/counter complaint, and prepared a panchnama of documents and devices seized, including passwords of email and social media accounts.

The devices were sealed, but her phone was subsequently de-sealed in order to try and continue investigation, and the applicant had been intimated on February 12, the plea says.

“In view of continuing investigation, there is an apprehension that in spite of cooperating with the investigating machinery, the applicant may be arrested due to political vendetta and media trial. The applicant is unaware of the fact whether she is an accused person or a witness as her name is nowhere mentioned as far as she is aware of alleged FIR,” the application says.

In his application filed through advocate Satej Jadhav, Muluk has said that many online foundations had come together and joined the Indian Environmental and Farmers’ Coalition, including XR India, of which he is a founder member. XR India had created a platform for displaying information on the farmers’ movement, including modes of peaceful protest.

Muluk has submitted that he and others were only supporting the dissenters, who are suppressed farmers, and that “vendetta” had trickled down from “politics to the house of the common person making mockery of his rights and principles”. Such vendetta is the “dark face of authoritarianism and real tool kit for devastation of not only democracy but also basic human rights”, he has said.

The plea says that the applicant, who is an engineer by education, is only 34 years old, has done well in his field, and has a bright future, and that police action would be destructive for his life and family with “false blot of being an anti-national”.

Raja Ramaswami, Superintendent of Police of Beed district, said a Delhi Police team had visited Beed two days ago, looking for Muluk in connection with the “Greta Thunberg toolkit” case.

“They had gone to his house in Beed city, but as they could not find him, they just informed the local police station and left,” the SP said.

Jacob is a lawyer who has been practising since 2015, and is enrolled with the Maharashtra and Goa State Bar Council.

She went to school in Panchgani, and studied science in St Xavier’s College in Mumbai before getting a degree in law from ILS Law College in Pune in 2013. While studying law, she interned with various law firms.

On her LinkedIn profile, Jacob refers to herself as a “first generation lawyer” with special interest and experience in advisory work, litigation, and alternative dispute resolution in civil laws.

Jacob also refers to herself as a human rights and environmental activist. “Social justice is and will always be the need of the hour,” her profile says.

Jacob’s lawyer Sanjukta Dey said her client is passionate about environmental causes, and has been part of events associated with these causes. Jacob is a volunteer with Extinction Rebellion, an advocacy group on climate change established in 2018 in the UK.

Dey said Jacob was first informed about being under investigation last week, when a Delhi Police team recorded her statement from 10 am to 11pm on February 11. “We still do not know what are the allegations against her, and we have not been provided a copy of the FIR. We have all evidence to show that she has no involvement in the case. She has cooperated with the probe and we don’t know why they are referring to her as absconding,” Dey said.

Sources in Mumbai Police said the personnel from Delhi Police were at Vanrai police station around 10.30 am on Monday.

“The Delhi Police approached us for assistance to execute the non-bailable warrant issued in Delhi,” an officer said on condition of anonymity. “A team from Vanrai police station accompanied them to Nikita Jacob’s house. But we could not find her. The door was locked.”

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