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SC grants bail to 21 PFI members in violence case during anti-CAA protests

The Supreme Court Wednesday granted bail to 21 members of Popular Front of India (PFI) accused of indulging in violence at Mangaluru on December 19 last year during anti-CAA protests, resulting in the death of two persons.

The top court had earlier granted stay on bail granted to the protesters on the appeal filed by Karnataka government against the High Court order.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde, A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that the applicants be released on bail on the condition that they will not participate in any violent activities or meetings.

“Having regard to the observation of the High Court that it was not possible to prima facie determine the presence of the accused persons at the spot and without treating the said observation as final finding of the fact, we consider it appropriate to direct that the applicants be released on bail on furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs 25,000 each to the satisfaction of the trial court..,” the bench said.

The top court imposed two conditions for the bail that the accused shall report to the nearest police station on every alternative Monday and that “they shall ensure that they do not participate in any violent activities/meetings”.

It said, “We make it clear that the observations of the High Court on question of fact and law are obviously made prima facie and shall not affect the trial”.

On March 6, the top court had issued notice to the accused after taking note of the appeal filed by the Karnataka government against the grant of bail by the high court and granted an ad-interim stay on its operation.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, had earlier assailed the high court order saying that as many as 56 policemen got injured during the violent protests.

“The rioters attacked the police station and set it ablaze,” the law officer had said, adding that two persons died during those violent protests.

The High Court, while granting bail, had said that the records produced indicate that the “identity of the accused involved in the alleged incident appear to have been fixed on the basis of their affiliation to PFI and they being members of the Muslim community”.

Two persons received bullet injuries in police firing and later succumbed at a hospital on December 19 last year as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act turned violent in Mangaluru.

Police had lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to baton charge and fired in the air to disperse anti-CAA protesters in Mangaluru, as thousands of demonstrators had hit the streets in many cities and towns across Karnataka on December 19 last year defying prohibitory orders.