Delhi Riots 2020| Student Activist Gulfisha Fatima Seeks Bail From High Court In UAPA Case
Student activist Gulfisha Fatima, seeking bail in a case of "larger conspiracy" behind the North East Delhi riots of February 2020, told the Delhi High Court on Friday that no objectionable speeches have been attributed to her and she should not be denied bail merely because co-accused Umar Khalid has been declined the relief.
The counsel for Fatima submitted before a bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar that being a constitutional court, the high court's powers are "unfettered" and there is a need to take a holistic view of the material against her.
Fatima, along with several others, has been booked under the anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the case for allegedly being the "masterminds" of the riots which had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
Violence erupted during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The counsel claimed that although Fatima was "certainly part of the protests" against the CAA/NRC, which is her fundamental right, she was not involved in the alleged conspiracy and the role of each accused has to be examined separately.
"She was 27 at the time. She was trying to make the best of her circumstances...(She) was on the verge of starting her job when the CAA-NRC happened. She believed that the position of her community stood threatened. She was not part of a conspiracy to bring the government down," the lawyer said.
It was also argued that Fatima was present at certain meetings which were also attended by other accused as well as certain prosecution witnesses and were "not a secret". There is, however, no evidence to show what she said there or if she agreed with the participants, her counsel asserted.
"The high court is a constitutional court. As a constitutional court, your powers are unfettered. The court can take a holistic view of the evidence and examine if it is reasonable," he said.
Earlier, her lawyer had contended that no role was ascribed to her in encouraging the violence and the possibility of the witness statements against her being "tailored" cannot be ruled out.
It was argued that all witnesses participated in the protests and even attended certain meetings between the accused persons and therefore they were "unpardoned accused masquerading as witnesses" and the court should take this into account while deciding her bail plea.
Her lawyer said in spite of a witness' statement on the use of "mirchi powder" and "danda" during a meeting of the accused persons, "not a single piece of evidence is there to suggest that any mirchi powder, any glass bottles are eventually used".
On March 16, the trial court refused to grant bail to her in the case.
The matter will be heard next on January 9.
With PTI Inputs