If we were to point to a day that can act as an antidote to the draconian arrests by the police during the anti-CAA protests across India earlier in 2020, it’d have to be September 1, 2020.
The Delhi High Court, in a hearing of student activist Devangana Kalita, and the Allahabad High Court, in a hearing of Gorakhpur pediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan — both of whom were arrested under unwarranted charges for instigating the public through their provocative speech against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) — ordered relief to the accused due to lack of proof on September 1.
Kalita is a Pinjra Tod member and Jawaharlal Nehru University student who was arrested four times between May 23 and June 6, 2020, for rioting, unlawful assembly and attempt to murder during the northeast Delhi cases of violence in Delhi. After getting a bail for the first two charges, the Crime Branch of Delhi Police rearrested her, but this time under the infamous Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for inciting ‘communal riots’ in Jaffrabad.
“…I have gone through the inner case diary produced in a sealed cover along with pen drive and found that though her presence is seen in peaceful agitation, which is fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India, however, failed to produce any material that she in her speech instigated women of particular community or gave hatred speech due to which precious life of a young man has been sacrificed and property damaged,” Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said in the 21-page judgement.
However, Kalita will not be released from jail. She has been granted bail for three out of the four cases related to anti-CAA violence, but is yet to secure bail in the case under UAPA.
Arrested in Feb for participating in anti CAA protests, Allahabad High court orders immediate release of Dr Kafeel Khan, terms his detention illegal. How many more such illegal detentions out there? https://t.co/MsTNBj6gyA
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) September 1, 2020
While better is three-fourth a loaf than nothing for Kalita, Dr Khan seems to have been justly granted the full loaf by the Allahabad HC, which directed for his immediate release after dropping the charges against him under the National Security Act. Dr Khan was incarcerated on January 29, 2020, by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) for an alleged provocative speech against the CAA at Aligarh Muslim University a month before.
Even as the Judiciary tries to mend the police’s way of unlawful detentions through these two hearings, jails in India are occupied by many such notorious arrests. These needs to be corrected sooner and compensated for before the public starts losing faith in the system.