(Image Source : Indian Express)
Safoora Zargar, that is the name of the 27-year-old, pregnant Mphil student from Jamia Milia Islamia University who has been booked under the unforgiving Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 for her role in the Anti-CAA protests. Before we look at the timeline of her case it is important to understand what UAPA is.
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,1967(UAPA) is a law which should not be associated with the world’s largest democracy. The act’s vague design is on purpose and different governments have used it and changed its scope over the years increasing it to draconian proportions. The core principle has remained the same in the eyes of critics and opposition: To curb the freedoms provided largely by Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution.
Under this act, even the most minor of all offences can be cause for preventive detention up to 90 days.
First of all, a person is assumed guilty even before the trial for all offences that come under the act, including expression of political ideas against the government and that of injustices faced by people as per section 39 of the act. In addition to that, it gives the already powerful institute of police even more powers to seize and arrest under section 43 (a) and (b).
“The UAPA is an extraordinary law that criminalises the fundamental freedom to associate and assemble by allowing the government to simply ban political organisations that question the status quo”-Anushka Singh
Safoora is a part of the media wing of Jamia Coordination Committee. As per reports she organised an anti-CAA protests and gave an ‘inflammatory speech’ at the said protest. Moreover, the first information report filed against her said that she was a part of a bigger conspiracy along with Umar Khalid and Meeran Hider.
Zargar’s lawyer has applied for bail thrice, all three instances saw the rejection.
The first was on April 18, 2020 the anti-terror law was not a part of the charges. The plea saw rejection on April 21, 2020.
The second instance was May 2, 2020. This instance saw the addition of UAPA and rejection of the bail application.
Finally, the third rejection was today, June 5, 2020. The judge delivering the judgement was ASI Dharmendra Rana.
“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,” Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana said in his order on Thursday. “The acts and inflammatory speeches of the co-conspirators are admissible under the Indian Evidence Act even against the accused.”(Via: Scroll)
Referring to the Zargar’s statements recorded under Section 161 and 164 of CrPC coupled with the WhatsApp chat available, the judge said that it could safely be inferred that there is prima facie evidence to show that there was a conspiracy to at least ensure the blockade of the roads (chakka jaam).(Via; Quint)
Furthermore, Rana stated that since this is a much larger conspiracy, actions and words of one are admissible able against all.
In addition to that, the judge held Zargar liable for her role in the protests under UAPA, even if she did not participate in the violence.
The stance did not change even though the 21 weeks pregnant Zargar had a high-risk pregnancy. Despite the current pandemic, she is in Tihar jail. It is the country’s most overpopulated jail. Though the judge did order that she receives medical attention.
Various organisations like PinjraTod have demanded her release unsuccessfully too.
On the other hand, the right-wing majority of the country has trolled Safoora and no action has been taken against them.
She is amongst the various anti-CAA protestors under arrest. In fact, over the course of the 4 stages of the lockdown, various others faced similar charges.