The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday granted bail to labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur in an attempt to murder case while taking note of a medical examination report, which listed two simple injuries on her caused by a “blunt object”.
Kaur was released from Karnal jail on Friday evening. Addressing mediapersons, Kaur said, “I did not break any law and cannot think of doing so in future. But I raise voice against exploitation of labourers and farmers by the big corporate houses. Such influential people cannot tolerate this and try to suppress their voice.”
The activist was arrested on January 12 after she had participated in the farmer’s protests at Kundli in Haryana.
The high court bench of justice Avneesh Jhingan, “It would be appropriate to say that the right to peaceful protest is circumscribed by a thin line. The crossing of line may change the colour of protest. It would be subject matter of trial as to whether the line for peaceful protest was crossed in the alleged incident or not.”
It is debatable whether Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections of attempt to murder, assault on public servant and attempt of snatching (which could have caused death), could have been invoked by the police, the bench said.
These issues would be dealt with during the trial, the bench said, further recoding that though the matter is under investigation but that itself would not be sufficient ground to deny personal liberty to Kaur. The court also refrained from commenting upon content of a video submitted by the government, in which, the police alleged, Kaur can be seen inciting protesters.
The court further asked Kaur to maintain restraint while on bail to ensure that no law and order issue arises due to her actions.
Kaur moved the high court seeking bail on February 22.
Kaur’s counsel RS Cheema had told the court that she, along with some workers, were peacefully protesting against the non-payment of wages. Cheema also contested the attempt to murder charges invoked against Kaur.
Opposing her bail, the police accused Kaur of trying to extort money from industrialists and inciting workers during the protest. According to police, a unit in Kundli was gheraoed on January 12 and its staff was manhandled by members of Kaur’s group. The police also accused her of making provocative speeches during the protest that resulted in clashes and injuries to seven police personnel, including a woman constable.
Meanwhile, the medical examination report of the activist submitted in court recorded two injuries caused by a “blunt object”. The report termed them simple injuries.
The examination was conducted on January 25, thirteen days after her arrest.
While Kaur has alleged that she was physically assaulted by the police, the Haryana Police have denied the accusations.
Three first information reports (FIR) were registered against Kaur and she has already been granted bail from the lower courts in two of the FIRs.