Supreme Court Grants Interim Bail to 22 Anti-CAA Protestors

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On September 9th, the Supreme Court granted bail to 22 anti CAA protestors. The accusation against them was of attacking the police during the anti CAA protest which took place on December 19, 2019. The Supreme Court stayed the Karnataka High Court Order granting bail to these persons on March 6, 2020.

Background

On February 17th, the Karnataka High Court granted bail to 22 people booked by the Mangalore police on allegations of violence and attack on police during anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru. Further, it directed the registration of FIRs against police officials on the prima facie finding that they had used violence against the protestors. The said protest took place on December 19, 2019. 

The High Court made the following observations

a) The records indicated a deliberate attempt to trump-up evidence and to deprive the liberties of the Petitioners by fabricating evidence. There is no direct evidence to connect the Petitioners with the alleged offences. 

b) Based on the evidence placed on record, it was, in fact, the police authorities that appeared to be pelting stones on the Petitioners and not vice versa.

c) 31 FIR’s by the police against protesters were subsequently registered. However, on complaints made by the family of the injured and those persons who died in police firing, no case was thereafter registered. Hence, this creates the possibility of false and mistaken implication. 

d) The objective of opposing CAA is not termed as an “unlawful object” within the meaning of Section 141 IPC.

On March 6, however, the Supreme Court stayed the above Order and issued notice to the alleged protestors. 

Court’s Observations

A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian disposed of the interim bail application. The Bench observed that: 

a) It was not possible to prima facie determine the presence of the accused persons at the spot. Not treating the said observation as a final finding of the fact, the applicants were therefore released on bail. 

b) The observations of the High Court on the question of fact and law are made prima facie and shall not affect the trial. 

Court’s Decision

The Bench directed release of the applicants on bail on furnishing bail bonds of Rs.25,000/- each to the satisfaction of the Trial Court pending Trial. It conditioned the Applicants to report to the nearest police station on every alternative Monday. Further, they were to ensure that they do not participate in any violent activities or meetings.


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