A Delhi Session Court on the 23rd of February, granted bail to Disha Ravi, a 22 year old Bengaluru based activist.
The Delhi HC judge cited Rig Veda – the oldest of the four Vedas revered by the Hindu community.
Dharmendra Rana, the Additional Session Judge said, “This 5000 year old civilisation of ours has never been averse to ideas from varied quarters. Even our founding father accorded due respect to the divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right.”
Highlighting the right to dissent under Article 19 of the Constitution of India, justice Rana said “In my considered opinion, the freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience.”
Talking about the toolkit, which the police said was part of a global conspiracy to defame India, the judge said that he was shown two hyperlinks present in the Google Doc which had links to two websites where he couldn’t find anything objectionable.
He also refused the public prosecutor’s argument that the material in the second website was “seditious” in nature.
Justice Rana said, “The imputations may be false, exaggerated or even with a mischievous intent but the same cannot be stigmatized being seditious unless they have a tendency to foment violence.”
He also said that the police are in the process of collecting more evidence and so they cannot be allowed to further restrict the liberty of a citizen on the basis of propitious anticipations.
Based on the arguments in the Court, the Judge granted bail to Disha Ravi. The Judge also said, “The resistance to bail plea seems to be more ornamental in nature.”
She was granted bail subject to furnishing two sureties of Rs. 1 lakh.
On the night of the 13th of February, the Delhi Police arrested Disha Ravi, a 22 year old activist from Soladevanahalli, Bengaluru.
The police alleged Ms. Ravi of editing and circulating a document tweeted by climate activist Greta Thunberg, that authorities say is anti government. The tweet was related to the ongoing farmers protest against the three farm laws in India.
The Delhi Police registered a FIR on the 14th of February on charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy and promoting hatred among groups under Sections 124-A, 120-A and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code against the “creators” of the ‘toolkit’, which was later shared by global climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Swedish climate activist Thunberg recently tweeted a document, explaining her stand and supporting the protesting Indian farmers. In her tweet, she also mentioned the new three farm laws would be harmful for farmers of India, putting their livelihoods at stake and would result in benefitting corporations. The document of Ms. Thunberg was also called a toolkit for creating awareness about the farmers’ protest.
Ms. Ravi shared the same document, following which the New Delhi Police arrested her. She is kept in remand until hearing, which is likely to be held on the 17th of February.
Post arrest, Disha Ravi received support from the public and was granted bail.