Updated: February 17, 2021 7:54:08 am
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted transit anticipatory bail to Shantanu Muluk in the Greta Thunberg toolkit case, and reserved its order on a similar bail plea by advocate and activist Nikita Jacob.
While issuing the non-bailable warrants against Jacob and Muluk, who work for a UK-based NGO Extinction Rebellion, Delhi Police had on Monday accused them of creating the toolkit tweeted by Thunberg on the farmers’ protest.
On Tuesday, a single-judge bench of Justice Vibha V Kankanwadi of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court granted 10-day transit anticipatory bail to Muluk on a personal bond of Rs 50,000, to approach the competent/appropriate court for relief.
In the case of Jacob, a single-judge bench of the Bombay High Court reserved its order on her transit anticipatory bail plea for Wednesday.
Appearing before a single-judge bench of Justice Prakash D Naik, advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, who represented Delhi Police’s Cyber Cell unit, challenged the maintainability of Jacob’s plea and submitted that the offence had been registered in Delhi and that there is no cause of action in the jurisdiction of the Bombay High Court to grant anticipatory bail.
Jacob has been booked under IPC Sections 124(A) for sedition, 153(A) for promoting enmity between different groups, and 120(B) for criminal conspiracy.
Venegaonkar submitted that on February 11, the Delhi Police had recovered material from Jacob’s residence, and that she was present at her residence and had recorded her statement. “When we went to her house, we investigated and interrogated her there. After sunset, we could not have further interrogated her,” he said, adding that when they turned up the next day (February 12), she was absconding.
Appearing for Jacob, senior counsel Mihir Desai, however, said his client, who has practised in the HC for nearly 6-7 years, had apprehended arrest and therefore filed for transitory pre-arrest bail on February 12.
Arguing that “the toolkit does not talk about any violence or taking over of Red Fort etc”, Desai submitted that it was prepared only to support farmers and “there are nearly 50 persons in this case and one person happens to be Khalistani is their (Delhi Police) argument”.
“He belongs to some organisation called ‘Poetic Justice’ and how will one know that the person is Khalistani? It is not a banned organisation under UAPA,” Desai said.
Venegaonkar submitted that Jacob was part of a larger group that was formed in December to support the farmers’ protest. “This toolkit document was created much earlier before the riot [January 26 violence] happened in Delhi mentioning step by step what action needs to be taken. Authorship lies with Disha Ravi and two others — whose names I cannot take — with affiliations to Khalistani movement.’
Justice Naik said that while he would not decide on the merits of the case, “but to understand the nature of the offence a little background is necessary”.
After Desai informed the court that the Aurangabad bench of the HC has granted transit anticipatory to Muluk, Justice Naik said he would want to know if the question of maintainability was discussed before that bench and sought to peruse that order. Justice Naik said he would pass an order on Wednesday.
Desai sought that in the meantime, Jacob may be protected from arrest. The counsel for the Delhi Police said, “No prudent officer will take that step. In any case, a woman will not be arrested after sunset.”
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