The Delhi Police on Monday (June 22) said that 39 deliveries have taken place in Tihar Jail in the last 10 years, while maintaining pregnancy cannot be the ground for granting bail to Jamia student Safoora Zargar, who was booked under anti-terror law – UAPA – for allegedly instigating people during the February violence in Delhi.
In its status report to the Delhi High Court, the police said, “There is no exception carved out for pregnant inmate, who is accused of such heinous crime, to be released on bail merely because of pregnancy. To the contrary, the law provides for adequate safeguards and medical attention during their custody in jail.”
Zargar, an MPhil student of Jamia Millia Islamia, is over four months pregnant.
“It is respectfully submitted that till date 39 deliveries have taken place in Delhi prison in last 10 years… In fact, more care and caution are being practised in jail so far as social distancing norms are concerned that would be available to her outside the jail premises,” the report added, resisting Zargar’s bail.
Meanwhile, the high court adjourned till Tuesday the hearing on Zargar’s bail plea after a request in this regard was made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. After hearing the plea via videoconferencing, Justice Rajiv Shakdher allowed the request after Zargar’s counsel said that she has no objection to it, and listed the matter for Tuesday.
During the hearing, Mehta, who is representing the Delhi Police, sought a day’s time to take instructions on the issue and said that it will be in “larger interest” if he is given indulgence. Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi also joined Mehta and said they are ready with the arguments on merits of the case, but they do not intend to proceed on merits at this stage.
Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for Zargar, said that the woman is in a delicate state and is in a fairly advanced stage pregnancy and if the police need time to respond to the plea, she be granted interim bail for the time being. The court asked Solicitor General Mehta to come back with instructions on Tuesday.
Jamia Coordination Committee member Zargar, who was arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on April 10, has challenged in the high court the June 4 order of the trial court denying her bail in the case.
The hearing in the high court also witnessed exchange of words between Mehta, Lekhi on one side and Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra who objected the appearance of the two senior law officers on behalf of Delhi Police in the case.
Mehra contended that unlike another northeast Delhi violence matter, in which requisite approval was sought by the Delhi Police to be represented by a team of lawyers led by the solicitor general, no such procedure was followed in this case.
“They know that my view in such cases will be more humanitarian and not as per their whims and fancies. I am not supposed to be the mouth piece of the Delhi Police, I am an officer of the court,” he said.
Lekhi shot back “a client chooses the lawyer and a lawyer cannot impose himself on the client.” He said that this controversy would deviate the court from the issue in hand and Mehra’s objection can be kept aside in this case. The high court concluded the hearing, asking the counsel for Delhi Police to sort out their battles by June 23.
The trial court, in its order, had said, “When you choose to play with embers, you cannot blame the wind to have carried the spark a bit too far and spread the fire.” It had said that during the course of investigation that a larger conspiracy was discernible and if there was prima facie evidence of conspiracy, acts and statements made by any one of the conspirators, it is admissible against all.
The trial court had said that even if there was no direct act of violence attributable to the accused (Zargar), she cannot shy away from her liability under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). However, it had asked the concerned jail superintendent to provide adequate medical aid and assistance to Zargar.
The police had earlier claimed that Zargar allegedly blocked a road near Jaffrabad metro station during the anti-CAA protests and instigated people that led to the riots in the area. It further claimed that she was allegedly part of the “premediated conspiracy” to incite communal riots in northeast Delhi in February.
Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and scores injured.
(With inputs from agencies)