Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted bail to 27-year-old Jamia Millia Islamia scholar, Safoora Zargar who was in Tihar Jail after being charged under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) for her alleged role in the Northeast Delhi riots. Zargar was granted bail after Delhi Police states that it had no objection to her release on humanitarian grounds.
Zargar who was arrested on April 10, is in her 23rd week of pregnancy and has been kept in the overcrowded Tihar jail amidst coronavirus pandemic.
Hearing the matter on Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the prosecution would not object to Zargar being released on regular bail, on “humanitarian grounds”.
Bar and Bench reports, the Court has imposed the four conditions for bail: Zargar will not indulge in any activity for which she is being investigated which may infract the law. She will refrain from influencing witness. She will not be hampering the investigation. She will not leave the National Capital region without seeking permission of the court concerned. Additionally, she has also been directed to be in touch with the investigating officer through mobile phone once every 15 days.
Zargar had been arrested in April, after police claimed she was among those who organised an anti-CAA protest and road blockade under the Jafrabad Metro station in Delhi on February 22-23. At the time of her arrest, Zargar was 13 weeks pregnant.
The Center for Human Rights at the American Bar Association (ABA) had said in a report that Safoora Zargar’s detention is not in compliance with the international treaties to which India is a state party. The ABA is one of the oldest and largest associations of lawyers and law students in the United States.
The Center specifically stated that denial of bail to Zargar is not in consonance with the provisions of International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which permit pre-trial detention only for narrow purposes such as to “prevent flight, interference with evidence, or the recurrence of the crime”.
The report said ,”Zargar has been detained pre-trial for seven months despite the fact that she is pregnant and therefore at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 in the crowded prison in which she is detained. Based on a preliminary review of the proceedings to date, the ABA Center for Human Rights (the Center) has determined that her detention does not appear to meet international human rights standards.”
The Center also said, “Given the lack of evidence in the FIR linking Ms. Zargar to acts of violence, it is unclear why alternatives to pre-trial detention were not considered adequate by the court in this case,” it noted.
Zargar’s arrest has also been condemned by international human rights organisation Amnesty. On May 1, Amnesty India released a statement saying:
“A particularly distressing arrest was that of 27-year-old Safoora Zargar, a research scholar from Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University. She was arrested on 10 April 2020 by the Delhi police for her alleged involvement in the February Delhi riots. But immediately after getting bail, the Delhi police arrested her again under UAPA and sent to Tihar jail in New Delhi, one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country. At the time of her arrest, Safoora was three months pregnant. She has been repeatedly denied access to her lawyer and her husband due to the nation-wide lockdown imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”