A Delhi court on Monday sent 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, arrested in connection with allegedly being involved in sharing a "toolkit" on social media related to the farmers' protest, to one-day police custody to be confronted with co-accused in the case.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma sent Ravi for custodial interrogation after police said she was required to be confronted with co-accused in the case which has transnational ramification.
However Ravi, who was produced before the court on expiry of her three-day judicial remand, through her lawyer opposed the plea of the investigators, saying “why should I (Ravi) be in police custody while those I have to be confronted with are on bail?”
Police only got one day custody of Ravi, though it had sought five days of custodial interrogation contending that during her interrogation, she shifted entire burden on two co-accused -- Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk -- who “cannot be arrested because they are currently on transit bail.
“They need to be confronted with Ravi. Nikita was served with a notice to join the probe but she did not join the interrogation.
“It is a case which has transnational ramifications, with involvement of those who has expressed their disaffection for this country,” prosecution told the court.
The probe agency told the court that they may arrest Nikita and Shantanu as well in future if there is a requirement.
“There was involvement of all three accused persons. We have to confront all three. We only have seven days more to seek custodial interrogation,” the prosecution told the court referring to the provisons of the law under which the case has been lodged that mandates custodial interrogation only upto 15 days post his/her arrest.
Ravi's counsel opposed the police plea saying that other two accused are on bail and “why should I be in police custody for the purpose of confrontation?“
Defence counsel also questioned as to why police did not summon the co-accused persons earlier.
“I (Ravi) was already in their custody for five days. Prosecution is talking in a manner as if they got to know all the information about the case today itself. What is new there to seek fresh PC.
“If investigating officer wants to meet Ravi beyond 15 days, what he will do? Two people already on transit bail, why should I be in police custody,” the counsel questioned.
He added, “Those two people are not in police custody. Why my police custody required for same purpose is a million dollar question.“
“I can be in judicial custody and still be confronted with them. After filing FIR, you were in hurry to arrest me. Did you ask me to join probe and I did not join? Even when I was arrested on February 13, you called them for February 22. Were you taking this court for granted that you will get police custody till then?
“What was I doing in last five days custody? They did not take me to my hometown for probe. They have a valid requirement to confront, but that may be met while I am in judicial custody. Two accused are already on bail,” he said.
The defence counsel also informed the court that a sessions court, a superior court than that of a magistrate's, has reserved order on Ravi's bail plea for Tuesday.
“I have moved a bail application, order on which is reserved for tomorrow. Right now seeking police custody means overreaching the sessions court, that has reserved order on bail,” the defence said.
The public prosecutor opposed defence's submission, saying, “It's wrong to say we are trying to influence sessions court. This is strange to say that just because sessions court has reserved order, this court should not hear the remand plea.”
“We have our right to seek (police custody), they have their right. If this court gives five days custody, will sessions court change the order? That's wrong proposition.
“We are not saying Disha was not a part of Zoom meeting, we are probing if she was. We did not seek police custody after five days because we did not need then. We are seeking now because there is a requirement,” police said.
Police further questioned as to why accused is treating police custody as punishment and that it was “just for the purpose of investigation.”
The defence, however, said that even law “disfavours” police custody.
Regarding summoning co-accused late, police said, “We had sent summons to Nikita on February 12, but she did not join and evaded.“
On Friday, Ravi was sent to three day judicial custody after police had said her custodial interrogation was not required for the time being.
The agency had said that it would seek her further interrogation once co accused -- Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk -- join the interrogation on February 22.
Nikita and Shantanu are currently on transit bail.
The Delhi high court on Friday heard Ravi's plea to restrain police from leaking to the media any probe material concerning the FIR lodged against her.
The high court, in its order, asked media houses to ensure that no leaked investigation material is broadcast as it could affect the probe and directed Delhi Police to abide by its stand on affidavit that it has not leaked nor intends to leak any probe details to the press.
Ravi was arrested by a Cyber Cell team of the Delhi Police from Bengaluru on Saturday and brought to Delhi.
She was booked on sedition and other charges.