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Delhi riots: HC reserves order on Jamia student Tanha’s bail plea in UAPA case

Tanha was arrested in the case in May last year for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the riots.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved order on a plea by Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, seeking bail in connection with a case related to larger conspiracy in the north-east Delhi riots in February last year.

A bench of Justices Siddharth Mirdul and A J Bhambhani heard the counsel for Delhi Police and Tanha and asked them to file written submissions by March 22.

Tanha has challenged a trial court’s October 26, 2020, order dismissing his bail application on the ground that he allegedly played an active role in the entire conspiracy with reasonable grounds for believing the allegations to be prima facie true.

In the high court, the bail plea was opposed by the Delhi Police, represented through Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi and advocates Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair, contending that the riots were premeditated and a conspiracy was hatched of which Tanha was a part.

The counsels said the accused should not be granted bail as there were statements of protected witnesses in the case which clearly showed the alleged role of Tanha in the conspiracy.

Tanha was arrested in the case in May last year for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the riots.

Advocates Siddharth Aggarwal and Sowjhanya Shankaran, representing Tahna, had submitted that they have challenged the refusal to grant him bail.

They said the accused be granted the relief as he has been in custody since May 2020 and even the charge sheet has been filed.

The trial court, in its order of October 26 last year, had said that since there were reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against Tanha were prima facie true, the embargo created by Section 43D of UAPA applied for grant of bail to the accused and the bail application was dismissed.

Under section 43 D of UAPA, an accused should not be released on bail or on his own bond if the court was of the opinion that the accusation against such person was prima facie true.

Tanha’s counsel had claimed before the trial court that he was not present in Delhi during the riots and did not visit any of the protest sites where rioting and violence occurred.

The counsel had further contended that there was no physical evidence connecting Tanha to the riots and no allegations with respect to any funds being received by him for terrorist activities.

Communal clashes had broken out in north-east Delhi on February 24 last year after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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