Delhi court extended interim protection to Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk

News Desk: A court in Delhi on Tuesday extended the interim protection from coercive action granted to climate activist Shantanu Muluk and advocate Nikita Jacob in the farmers’ protest document case till March 15. The court also adjourned the matter seeking anticipatory bail pleas for Muluk and Jacob, saying that no coercive action will be taken against them till the next hearing, which is scheduled for March 15.

The lawyers for both Jacob and Muluk requested the court to adjourn the hearing after the Delhi Police filed a detailed response in the case. Muluk’s lawyer Vrinda Grover sought time to go through the response and Jacob’s counsel Rebecca John told the court she would argue on the same day as Grover.

The prosecution, represented by Additional Public Prosecutors Atul Srivastava and Irfan Ahmed, did not oppose the adjournment.

Earlier as the hearing commenced on Tuesday morning, Grover informed the court that she had not received the status report for the case. The additional public prosecutor then said that the document will be provided in “15-20 minutes”.

To this, John objected saying that the purpose of the status report was for them to come prepared. “I have no clue whether it’s a two-page report or 40 pages,” John said.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana then adjourned the matter till 2 pm.

On March 2, the court had adjourned hearing of Jacob’s plea till Tuesday, after the additional public prosecutor Ahmed pointed out that Muluk’s petition was also listed on the same date. The court did not agree to Jacob’s contention of an “overlap” if the matters were heard together.

Ahmed had also submitted to the court that Jacob and Muluk gave “contradictory” replies during their interrogation in the case.

Jacob had filed her anticipatory bail petition on March 1. She had earlier been granted protection from arrest for three weeks by the Bombay High Court on February 17. Muluk was also granted protection from arrest by a court in Delhi till March 9.

Non-bailable warrants were issued against Jacob and Muluk after 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi was arrested in Bengaluru on February 13 for allegedly editing and circulating a document in support of the farmers’ protest.

The “toolkit” – a common term used by social activists for campaign material – was tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in support of India’s protesting farmers on February 4. The authorities say the document is anti-government.

The Delhi Police claimed that Muluk, Jacob and Ravi, had attended a Zoom call along with an organisation in Canada, the Poetic Justice Foundation, to chalk out the modalities related to the farmer protests against the new agricultural laws. The organisation is an advocacy group that often raises questions connected with human rights. However, the police claim it is promoting Khalistanism or Sikh separatism, a charge that the group denies.

On February 23, a court in Delhi granted bail to Ravi after observing that the evidence against her was scanty and sketchy. It added that there were no palpable reasons to breach the rule of bail for a 22-year-old woman who has absolutely no criminal antecedents.