As security agencies continue to indiscriminately invoke provisions of the Act, courts must remember to adopt interpretations jurisprudentially closer to the principle of ‘bail, not jail’. By looking beyond the facts of a given case, the courts are likely to create a more equitable, and accessible, system of justice and ensure opportunities to do complete justice are not missed.
In this episode of The 39A Dialogues, Senior Advocate and criminal law practitioner Ms. Nitya Ramakrishnan discusses what sets apart the stringent bail provision under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and makes it almost impossible for an accused to secure bail once charged for offences of ‘terrorist activities’ and ‘terrorist organization’ under the Act. She comments on the decision of the Delhi High Court from June 2021, granting bail to three student activists – Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita while coming to the finding that that their acts of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 did not meet the standard of a ‘terrorist act’ as defined under the UAPA. Ms. Ramakrishnan argues that the decision of the Delhi High Court is logically sound and does not come in conflict with the Supreme Court’s 2019 landmark ruling in Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali.