Toolkit case: activist gets temporary pre-arrest bail

Environmental activist Shantanu Muluk, a suspect in a case registered by Delhi Police in connection with the toolkit shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg about the ongoing farmers’ protest, on Tuesday got temporary anticipatory bail from the Bombay High Court.

The high court on Wednesday will pass its order on another suspect, advocate Nikita Jacob’s similar plea.

Justice Vibha Kankanwadi of the Aurangabad bench of the HC granted Muluk, resident of Beed in central Maharashtra, ten days’ transit anticipatory bail to enable him to apply for protection before the appropriate court in Delhi.

Muluk and Jacob had on Monday approached the high court separately seeking transit anticipatory bail, after a Delhi court issued non-bailable warrants against them.

According to Delhi Police, the duo were involved in preparing the toolkit document and were in direct touch with “pro- Khalistani elements”.

Jacob’s plea for pre-arrest bail was heard by Justice P D Naik at the high court’s principal bench in Mumbai which said it would pass the order on Wednesday.

Advocate Hiten Venegavkar, appearing for the Delhi police’s cyber cell, assured the Mumbai bench that “no prudent officer” would arrest a person when his or her application is pending in court.

The Delhi police on Saturday arrested environmental activist Disha Ravi from Bengaluru in the case and named Muluk and Jacob as suspects.

The case has been lodged under IPC sections 124(a) (sedition), 153 (a) (promoting enmity among different groups) and 120 (b) criminal conspiracy.

Senior counsel Mihir Desai, appearing for Jacob, argued that the alleged toolkit was prepared by a number of people and “only spoke of support to the protesting farmers”.

“It does not talk about any violence or about the January 26 incident at the Red Fort (when a tractor rally by protesters led to violence),” Desai argued.

Serious charges of sedition have been invoked against a person like Jacob who is only a young environmental enthusiast, the lawyer said.

Advocate Venegavkar, however, claimed that the toolkit was created and authored by Disha Ravi and Jacob alongwith many others who are part of the Khalistan movement.

He also contended that the HC does not have the powers to grant any relief when the matter pertains to another state.

Jacob, instead of cooperating with the investigation, absconded from her residence, he alleged.

“A team of Delhi police went to Jacob’s house on February 11 with a search warrant. She was questioned and her statement was recorded at her residence itself instead of taking her to the local police station,” Venegavkar said.

“The police team left her house on February 11 since it was after sunset and told her that they would return the next day for further investigation. Since then, Jacob is absconding,” he said.

To this, Justice Naik said she must have apprehended arrest.

Desai said Jacob had indeed left the house as she feared arrest, adding that if granted bail, she would cooperate with the probe agency.

Justice Naik, before reserving order, said he would not go into the merits of the case but only consider whether a case was made for the grant of transit anticipatory bail.

Jacob and Muluk in their pleas said they were targets of political vendetta.

Greta Thunberg, a celebrated climate activist, had shared the `toolkit’ to lend support to the farmers’ agitation near Delhi borders against the Union government’s new agri laws.

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