Disha Ravi gets bail in toolkit case: What the court said
Additional sessions judge Dharmender Rana released the 22-year-old activist on a personal bond of ₹1 lakh and two sureties of similar amounts.
A Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to climate activist Disha Ravi days after she was arrested from Bengaluru for allegedly editing a social media document, or toolkit, about the ongoing farmer protest against three farm laws. Here is all you need to know about the court proceedings and what it said on dissent and freedom of speech:
- The court granted the bail saying there was “scanty” and “sketchy” evidence to back charges of sedition against Ravi.
- It asserted that citizens could not be jailed simply because they disagreed with government policies.
- Additional sessions judge Dharmender Rana released the 22-year-old activist on a personal bond of ₹1 lakh and two sureties of similar amounts.
- The judge held that Ravi had no connection with pro-Khalistani organisations, Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF), and Sikhs for Justice, and that there was not an “iota” of evidence linking her to the violence that rocked Delhi on Republic Day.
- He cited the “scanty and sketchy evidence” and added he did not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of bail.
- The judge said the 22-year-old was with absolutely blemish-free criminal antecedents and has firm roots in the society.
- The court also said the call for any kind of violence was conspicuously absent from the toolkit, and no evidence was on record to suggest Ravi subscribed to secessionist ideas.
- Activists have repeatedly said the toolkit is an innocuous document used by social media campaigns for strategy and planning.
- The judge said citizens are the conscience-keepers of the government in any democratic nation.
- He added they cannot be put behind bars simply because they choose to disagree with the state policies.
- The judge said the offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the government.
- The court said difference of opinion, disagreement, divergence, dissent, or for that matter, even disapprobation, are recognised legitimate tools to infuse objectivity in state policies.
- It added an aware and assertive citizenry, in contradistinction with an indifferent or docile citizenry, is indisputably a sign of a healthy and vibrant democracy.
- Ravi is a part of the Indian wing of Fridays for Future, a global climate change movement founded by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.
- She was arrested on February 13 and charged with sedition, criminal conspiracy, and inciting to riot.
- Police said Ravi, along with two other activists, created the toolkit to spread misinformation and incite unrest as part of a global conspiracy.
- The court rejected the police’s argument and said it could not be presumed on “surmises or conjectures” that Ravi supported secessionist tendencies or violence, simply because she shared a platform with people who gathered to oppose the farm laws.
- The court said the right to dissent is enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution. It added the freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience.
- The court said there are no geographical barriers on communication.
- It added a citizen has the fundamental rights to use the best means of imparting and receiving communication, as long as the same is permissible under the law and as such have access to the audience abroad.