After much consideration, the single bench of Bombay High Court— led by Justice PD Naik — has granted advocate Nikita Jacob three-week transit bail. Meanwhile, Justice Vibha Kankanwadi of Bombay HC had granted Nikita’s co-accused Shantanu Muluk a 10-day transit bail. Neither of the two judges made any further remark on the case, as the transit bail is to protect them from arrest until they reach Delhi, where they will have to seek bail in the case against them.
Nikita and Muluk had earlier moved Bombay High Court seeking transit anticipatory bails after the Delhi Police filed issued non-bailable warrants and named them accused in the ‘toolkit’ case. Nikita, who is a lawyer with the Bombay High Court, filed a plea through her lawyer Sanjukta Dey with the principal High Court seat in Mumbai. Muluk, a resident of Beed district in Maharashtra, filed his application in the Aurangabad bench of the HC.
Nikita and Muluk are claiming they are targets of political vendetta. “The applicant [Nikita] fears that she may be arrested due to political vendetta and media trial,” her plea application stated. “Some entity named Legal Rights Observatory appears to have filed a false and baseless complaint with the Delhi police and seeks to pin the blame for violence on January 26, 2021 (during tractor rally in Delhi) upon the applicant as well,” her plea application said. Muluk had said in his application, that he and his colleagues are innocent and are not dissenters but are supporters of the farmers’ protest.
According to reports, Nikita admitted that there was a Zoom call meeting, which was attended, by Poetic Justice Foundation member MO Dhaliwal and other activists, including Disha Ravi. However, Nikita has denied sharing information with activist Greta Thunberg. She added that the ‘toolkit’ document was an “informational pack” and wasn’t intended to incite violence.
Meanwhile, Disha Ravi’s arrest and custody have triggered widespread criticism of the legal failures on the side of the Delhi police and the Magistrate that issued the arrest warrant. Many claim that the bail was issued without Disha’s counsel present. Senior lawyer Rebecca M John also criticised the procedure of Disha’s arrest, stating that the Delhi Police compromised her rights. “I am critical of Disha’s arrest for the following reasons. Delhi Police could have waited for a Monday arrest and produced her on Tuesday. The police producing an accused on Sunday compromise her legal rights as lawyers find it difficult to be present during productions,” she said, adding that most lawyers are unaware that their clients are being produced in court.
Meanwhile, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) also condemned Disha’s arrest. In a statement, CJAR said that the Delhi Police has made a complete mockery of the law and established procedure in arresting Disha and depriving her of her rights. The organisation has urged the Delhi Court to take Suo moto cognizance and initiate action against the Magistrate for remanding her in police custody. CJAR has also stated that Disha should be released from custody immediately and the action should be taken against the officers.