On Tuesday, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana of the Patiala House Court in Delhi granted bail to activist Disha Ravi in the farmers’ protests ‘toolkit’ case. The bail was subject to furnishing of two sureties of ₹1 lakh each, and some conditions including restraint on leaving the country without prior permission of the court.
Disha Ravi is the founder of Fridays For Future India, which is a people’s movement for climate justice. She has been regularly involved in climate change activism.
Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist, tweeted on 4 February 2021 supporting the Indian farmers’ protests against the farm laws, in which she shared a ‘toolkit’ for people who are interested in helping on the ground. The purpose of the ‘toolkit’, according to the document, was “to enable anyone unfamiliar with the ongoing farmers protests in India to better understand the situation and make decisions on how to support the farmers based on their own analysis.”
Delhi police had filed a case of criminal conspiracy and sedition against Disha Ravi on 4 February 2021. The police accused her of conspiracy in creating and disseminating the ‘toolkit’ and alleged that she had collaborated with pro-Khalistani group called ‘Poetic Justice Foundation’. She was arrested in Bengaluru by the Delhi police on 13 February 2021 and brought to Delhi. She was remanded to police custody till 19 February 2021. The court had reserved the judgment for 23 February 2021. On 22 February 2021, after her 3-day judicial custody, the Delhi police got 1-day custody of Disha Ravi to confront her with co-accused Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk.
The final bail order was pronounced on 23 February 2021. “Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on record, I do not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of ‘Bail’ against a 22-year-old young lady, with absolutely blemish free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society and send her to jail,” the judge notes in the order.
Arguments of Delhi Police:
- Disha Ravi had created a WhatsApp group called “Intl farmers strike”, which she later deleted in an attempt to safeguard herself against the alleged links between the toolkit and Poetic Justice Foundation.
- She was also the editor of the toolkit and had tried to destroy evidence of it.
- She manipulated and gained support of ‘international youth icon’ Greta Thunberg, which led to a global audience for seditious elements with secessionist ideas.
- Her co-accused Shantanu visited Delhi to take part in the protests based on the toolkit.
- Under the pretext of farm laws, she and her associates aimed to vandalize Indian embassies abroad, as well as attack Indian symbols like Yoga and Chai.
- Her bail needs to be denied as she also needs to be confronted with other co-accused in the case.
- Creation of a WhatsApp group or being an editor of the toolkit is not an offence, and the links contained within the toolkit are not objectionable.
- Destruction of evidence by Disha Ravi by deleting the WhatsApp group seems to be an anxious attempt to safeguard herself from unnecessary controversies.
- Except for forwarding the toolkit to Greta Thunberg, no evidence to suggest if Disha Ravi had supported secessionist ideas.
- Delhi police had granted permission for the protest march, and hence, there was nothing wrong in co-accused Shantanu attending the protest.
- There is no evidence of any violence in any of the Indian embassies abroad.
- There is no mandatory requirement for the accused to be detained in order to confront her with the other co-accused.