On Monday, the Delhi High Court granted bail to a Punjabi Actor-activist, Deep Sidhu, in a case related to the violence on the Republic Day.
After being granted bail in the first case related to the same incident, the Court called his arrest, “vicious and sinister action” and said that it “it amounts to playing fraud with the established criminal process”.
In connection with the damage caused to the Red Fort monument during the farmer’s protest, Reliever Metropolitan Magistrate Sahil Gupta, who granted bail to Sidhu, observed that, “the need and timing of the arrest is questionable”.
There have been two FIRs registered against Sidhu in connection with the violence on Republic Day. In the first FIR, Sidhu was granted bail by a Sessions Court. Later, he was arrested by the Crime Branch in connection to the second FIR, within hours.
Despite Sidhu being lodged in the Judicial custody since the 9th of February, he was arrested only on the 17th of April, 2021, when he was granted regular bail.
The Court said that, “This clearly suggests that it was an attempt to defeat the bail order…of the…ASJ and is a grave affront to the personal liberty of the accused and runs afoul of rights guaranteed under Article 21. Such vicious and sinister action of investigative authorities amounts to playing fraud with established criminal process and shows scant regard to constitutional protections enshrined, protected and cherished under the Constitution on India,”. The Court also added that, “The sweeping power of investigation does not warrant subjecting a citizen each time to a fresh investigation by the police in respect of the same incident, giving rise to one or more cognizable offences, consequent upon the filing of successive FIRs whether before or after filing the final report,”.
Abhishek Gupta, Sidhu’s lawyer told the Court that, Sidhu has been in custody for over 70 days and every single day was a “grave affront” to his rights under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The Court said that, “Fresh investigation based on the second and successive FIRs, not being a counter case, filed in connection with the same or connected cognizable offence alleged to have been committed in the course of the same transaction and in respect of which pursuant to the first FIR either investigation is underway or fine report under section 173(2) has been forwarded to the magistrate, is an abuse or process and impermissible,”
The Court also added to this by saying, “I am of the considered opinion that Applicant’s further incarceration in the present case would bear no fruit and therefore, would be unjustified, nor would the restoration of Applicant’s liberty be detrimental to the investigation being conducted by the police authorities. The accused has already been interrogated in the Police custody for 14 days and has been in custody for about 70 days when he has been granted regular bail by Ld. ASJ on similar facts. Any further restraint upon his liberty would be neither logical nor legal.”
The Court in its order, mentioned that, “from prima facie perusal of contents of both the FIRs, it appears that the allegations levelled against the accused are similar.”
In the first FIR, in which Sidhu had been granted bail by a sessions Court, the Court said that, “the first FIR provides a comprehensive overview of the incident relating to violence and alleged damage caused to the Red Fort on the Republic Day and the present FIR merely reiterates the allegations, against the accused, as to the damage caused to the Red Fort.”
Rajiv Kamboj, Additional Public Prosecutor, appeared for the State, told the Court that, “Red Fort is an ancient monument. They defaced and destroyed it. As per the videos, he (Sidhu) played an active role. Since the case is a sensitive one, bail should not be granted”