A Delhi court on Saturday reserved its order in the bail plea filed by activist Disha Ravi in the Greta Thunberg- toolkit row. However, Judge Dharmendra Rana’s pointed questions on the link between the ‘toolkit’ and the 26 January violence caused considerable discomfort to the Delhi Police.
The proceedings started on a bad note for the Delhi Police as the judge was left fuming after he was told that ASG SV Raju wasn’t available for the morning hearing. Judge Dharmender Rana said, “I am very disappointed I came especially for this matter.” He, however, agreed to resume the hearing at 2 PM.
ASG Raju began the argument for the Delhi Police by referring to a Canada-based organisation, Poetic Justice Foundation, in a bid to establish a Khalistani link with the farmers’ protest and activist Disha Ravi’s association with the group. But the judge drew the ASG’s attention to the ‘toolkit’ for which the Delhi Police had arrested Disha Ravi on 13 February. “Can you please understand in plain words, what is this ‘toolkit’?” Judge Rana asked.
The judge asked the ASG to point out the ‘objectionable material’ in the ‘toolkit’. Raju, according to Livelaw, said that there was no need to share ‘this toolkit with the Poetic Justice Foundation’ adding that it showed that their intent was not farmers’ protests but the intent was more sinister.
The judge asked, “Is PJF a banned organisation?” Raju replied, “No. It’s not a banned organisation.” The court then asked if the two individuals named belonging to the PJF had any FIR pending against them. Raju said that that can be added at ‘any stage.’ The judge repeated his question one more time, “No, is there any FIR pending against them?”
Raju replied, “I am not aware.”
The judge, according to Livelaw, asked, “Then how can their credentials be questioned? I need to know whether their bad credentials are merely imputations or there is some material also.”
The court was informed about a Zoom meeting on 11 January when 60-70 individuals attended from across the globe. Also attending the Zoom meeting where Mo Dhaliwal and MS Anita, the lawyer representing the Delhi Police said. The court asked if Disha Ravi too was a participant of the Zoom meeting.
The court was told that Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk attended the said Zoom meeting on 11 January before they discussed the matter with Disha on WhatsApp. This prompted the judge to conclude, ‘So basically, it was not exactly the ‘toolkit’ which was incriminating, it was a facade.”
The judge continued, “To satisfy my judicial conscience, I need you to answer, if I am a person emotionally attached to a particular movement/cause, and for the same, I get involved with persons who have different methods without being aware. Can the same imputation be made against this person also?”
ASG Raju said that Dhaliwal was known to everyone, but the judge said, “I am hearing his name for the first time.” The judge asked the Delhi Police lawyers, “You have to give me a definite answer. Hitherto what is the incriminating material you’ve collected against her?”
ASG: And if she didn’t know, why was she trying to cover her tracks?
Court: You have to give me a definite answer. Hitherto what is the incriminating material you’ve collected against her?#DishaRavi#Toolkit
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) February 20, 2021
The judge used an analogy of robber saying that if he had approached a ‘dacoit for donations, can the imputation of dacoity be invoked against me also?’ He then asked, “What is the link between the ‘toolkit’ and Jan 26 violence?”
Unable to come up with evidence to establish any link between the the so called ‘toolkit’ and 26 January’s violence, the ASG said, “In a conspiracy, everyone may not have an equal role. Our point is that through this, those connected to the Khalistani movement were instigated.”
Minutes later during the hearing, Judge Rana once again asked, “I am back to my original query. What exactly is the evidence collected by you against this lady connecting her to the violence perpetrated on 26 January?” The Assistant Public Prosecutor said that the link will be established after a proper investigation. The judge asked, “Okay, but how do you establish the link between those who actually committed the violence with these conspirators?”
Once again, when the lawyers representing the Delhi Police failed to satisfy the judge with a proper response, the latter said, “So as of now, should I presume that there is no direct link?” ASH Raju said that it was ‘under investigation.’
Disha Ravi was arrested by the Delhi Police on 13 February from her residence in Bengaluru for allegedly editing and sharing the ‘toolkit’ tweeted by Greta Thunberg on 3 February. Several constitutional experts including Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Deepak Gupta, have said that nothing mentioned in the toolkit amounted to a criminal offence.
The Delhi court will pronounce its order in Disha’s bail plea on 23 February. Meanwhile, two other accused, Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk, have been granted transit anticipatory bails by the Bombay High Court in the same case.