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Thursday, February 25, 2021

‘Citizens can’t be jailed for disagreeing with state policies’: Top quotes from Disha Ravi’s bail order

In the bail order, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana noted that the accused had "absolutely no criminal antecedents". Ravi was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and two sureties of like amount.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 24, 2021 7:22:19 am
Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old climate activist, leaves after an investigation at National Cyber Forensic Lab, in New Delhi, February 23, 2021. (Source: Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

Twenty-two-year-old activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested in connection with a toolkit on the farmer protests that was tweeted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, was granted bail by a Sessions Court in Delhi on Tuesday. The court order comes as a blow to the Delhi Police, which had alleged that the activist was the “key conspirator” in the formulation and dissemination of the document and that she collaborated with pro-Khalistani group Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF) to “spread disaffection against Indian state”.

In the bail order, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana noted that the accused had “absolutely no criminal antecedents”. Ravi was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and two sureties of like amount.

Here are the top quotes from Judge Rana’s order:

* “Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on record, I do not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of ‘Bail’ against a 22-year-old young lady, with absolutely blemish-free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society, and send her to jail.”

* “In my considered opinion, Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic Nation. They cannot be put behind the bars simply because they choose to disagree with the State policies. The offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments.”

* “Investigating agency can’t be permitted to further restrict the liberty of citizen on basis of propitious anticipations.”

* “Citizens are conscience keepers of government. They cannot be jailed simply because they choose to disagree with state policies.”

* The court quoted a phrase from Rig Veda to underscore respect for divergence in opinion. “This 5000-year-old civilisation of ours has never been averse to ideas from varied quarters,” the court order read.

Disha Ravi arrives to a court in New Delhi. (Reuters)

* “Even our founding fathers accorded due respect to the divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right. The right to dissent is firmly enshrined under Article 19 of The Constitution of India.”

* “In my considered opinion, freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience. There are no geographical barriers to communication. A Citizen has the fundamental right to use the best means of imparting and receiving communication, as long as the same is permissible under the four corners of law and as such have access to an audience abroad.”

* “Since the link with the said toolkit or PJF has not been found to be objectionable, mere deletion of the WhatsApp chat to destroy the evidence linking her with the toolkit and PJF, also becomes meaningless.”

* “I’m also conscious of the fact that the investigation is at a nascent stage and police is in the process of collecting more evidence, however, the investigating agency made a conscious choice to arrest the applicant accused upon the strength of material so far collected and now they cannot be permitted to further restrict the liberty of a citizen on the basis of propitious anticipations.”

* “Still further, there is nothing on record to suggest that there was any call, incitement, instigation or exhortation on the part of the applicant/accused and the above said organisations and its associates to foment violence on January 26, 2021.”

* “In the absence of any evidence to the effect that the applicant/accused agree or shared a common purpose to cause violence on January 26, 2021 with the founders of PJF, it cannot be presumed by resorting to surmises or conjectures that she also supported the secessionist tendencies or the violence caused on January 26 simply because she shared a platform with people, who have gathered to oppose the legislation.”

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