Disha Ravi, the 22-year-old climate activist, was granted bail by a Delhi court on Tuesday afternoon – subject to the provision of two sureties of ₹ 1 lakh each and normal conditions that include not leaving the country without informing the court.
Ravi was arrested on 13 February in connection with the “toolkit” case and charged with sedition and conspiring against the country, NDTV reported.
“Considering scanty and sketchy evidence on record, I do not find any palpable reason to breach rule of bail for a 22-year-old girl who has absolutely no criminal antecedent,” the judge said, adding , “… sedition cannot be invoked to minister to wounded vanity of the government”.
In his full order Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana made several strong observations on the right to dissent and freedom of speech and expression.
“Even our founding fathers accorded due respect to divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right. The right to dissent is firmly enshrined under Article 19 of The Constitution of India,” Judge Rana said.
He also dismissed Delhi Police claims that Ravi’s sharing of the ‘toolkit’ with teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg amounted to conspiring against the country.
“A citizen has the fundamental rights to use the best means of imparting and receiving communication, as long as (it) is permissible… to have access to audiences abroad,” he noted.
Judge Rana also dismissed the arguments that Ms Ravi had conspired with the Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF) to defame the country and spread secessionist thought.
“… in the absence of any evidence (that) the accused shared a common purpose to cause violence (on 26 January) with the founders of PJF (Poetic Justice Foundation), it cannot be presumed by resorting to surmises or conjectures that she also supported secessionist tendencies,” he said.
“There is not even an iota of evidence brought to my notice connecting the perpetrators of the violence on 26.01.2021 with the said PJF or the applicant/accused,” Judge Rana added.
Ravi is accused by Delhi Police of creating and spreading an online document linked to the farmers’ protest against the centre’s agriculture laws – a document the police says was meant to revive a Khalistani group and “spread disaffection against the Indian state”.