Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu received bail on Saturday in connection with a case pertaining to violence at the Red Fort on Republic Day during the farmers’ tractor rally.
On January 26, clashes erupted between farmers protesting the Centre’s new agriculture legislations and the police, when a group of protesters barged past security personnel at Red Fort and occupied the monument. Police had resorted to lathicharge to make the protesters vacate the building.
Sidhu was arrested on February 9, by the Delhi Police on charges of inciting violence.
Special Judge Neelofer Abida Perveen granted relief to Sidhu on Friday on a personal bond of Rs 30,000 and two sureties of a like amount.
The court noted that the accused was in custody since February 9, 2021, with 14 days of remand in police custody. It said that a police plea for further incarceration for the sole purpose of voice sampling was not justifiable.
“The prosecution's case rests largely and on the contents of video recordings and footage available and accessible to all on social media sites in public domain, and there is therefore a remote possibility of the accused-applicant being able to interfere with the content on such platform,” the judge said.
Rejecting the prosecution's contention that the accused might abscond if released on bail, the court said, “The accused as per the own case of the prosecution is a well-known public figure with deep roots in society and such apprehensions are capable of being allayed by imposing stricter conditions.”
It further said, “It would violate and infringe the fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed to the accused, if the accused is denied bail in the present case on such nature of accusations and material only on the ground that the investigating agency is yet to establish the identity of the several other members of the unlawful assembly.”
While granting the bail, the judge directed the accused to deposit his passport with the investigating officer and appear before the police station as well as the court as and when required.
“He shall not influence, threaten, intimidate witnesses nor tamper with evidence in any manner whatsoever,” the court said.
The court, meanwhile, said that while it was beyond the realm of dispute that dissent and dialogue is fundamental to democracy where the absolute power vests in the people exercised by the people through its elected representatives and that the Constitution of India guarantees the right to protest, “the present FIR however is not impinging upon this fundamental right to protest in any manner.”
On January 26, thousands of protesting farmers who reached ITO in Delhi from the Ghazipur border clashed with police, the agency claimed in its FIR registered in connection with the Red Fort violence, adding that many of them who were driving tractors reached the Red Fort and entered the monument, where a religious flag was also hoisted.
In the FIR, police said two magazines with 20 live cartridges were snatched from two constables by protesters who also damaged vehicles and robbed anti-riot gear.
(With PTI inputs)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine