Mangaluru Anti-CAA Protest: SC Stays Karnataka HC Order Granting Bail To 21 People Affiliated To PFI
Mangaluru Anti-CAA Protest: SC Stays Karnataka HC Order Granting Bail To 21 People Affiliated To PFISupreme Court of India (Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court on Friday (6 March) stayed the Karnataka High Court judgement which granted bail to 21 people affiliated to Popular Front of India (PFI) who were allegedly part of a mob which targeted police officers and attempted to set ablaze a police station during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Mangaluru in December 2019.

The Karnataka High Court through a judgement on 17 February granted conditional bail to these people noting that there was a deliberate attempt to cover up police excesses by implicating innocent persons. The Karnataka government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the order.

The incident took place on 19 December after police opened fire at a crowd protesting against CAA. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant stayed the High Court judgement and issued notice to the accused.

According to the state government, nearly 1,500-2,000 protesters indulged in violence near North Police Station Mangaluru. "Coming to the police station and causing damage to police vehicles and private vehicles parked in the premises of the police station. In spite of the prohibitory order, the accused persons gathered with deadly weapons like petrol bomb, clubs etc., and caused the damage to the property...", said the government in its petition.

In the violence, 54 police persons were injured and two people died in police firing while dispersing protesters.

The High Court single-judge bench had noted that in an offence involving a large number of people, the identity and participation of each accused must be fixed with reasonable certainty. In the present cases, the identity appears to have been fixed on the basis of their affiliation to PFI and they being members of the Muslim community.

"Though it is stated that the involvement of the petitioners is captured in CCTV footage and photographs, no such material is produced before the court showing the presence of any of the petitioners at the spot, armed with deadly weapons," said the High Court.

The state government contesting this order said that the High Court did not consider the clear evidence produced by the prosecution by way of photographs, and mobile tower locations of each of the accused.

"The accused were properly identified in the said photographs and names of the accused found in the photograph were also detected in the photographs. In spite of the same, the High Court has observed that there is no material produced by the prosecution with regard to identity of accused persons", said the state government. The accused had moved the High Court after their bail plea was rejected by a sessions court in Dakshina Kannada.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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