‘Abdication Of Judicial Duties’ : Authorized Specialists Query Disha Ravi’s Remand With out Lawyer In Greta Thunberg Toolkit Case

Criticizing the Magistrate’s order remanding 21-year old climate activist Disha Ravi in the Greta Thunberg ‘toolkit’ case, acclaimed criminal law practitioner Senior Advocate Rebecca Mammen John said that it amounted to “shocking abdication of judicial duties”.

She expressed deep disappointment at the conduct of the Duty Magistrate, Patiala House court of New Delhi, who, according to her, remanded the young woman to five days custody of Delhi police, without first ensuring that she was being represented by counsel.

“Magistrates must take their duties of Remand seriously and ensure that the mandate of Article 22 of the constitution is scrupulously followed. If the accused was not being represented by counsel at the time of the hearing, the magistrate should have waited till her counsel arrived or in the alternate, provided her with legal aid”, John wrote in Facebook.

As per various news reports, Disha Ravi made submissions on her own before the Magistrate. She denied being part of any conspiracy against the Indian State. According to news reports, Disha Ravi broke down before the Magistrate while saying, “I was just supporting farmers. I supported farmers because they are our future and we all need to eat.” She added that she didn’t create the toolkit, and just made two edits to it.

Sharply questioning the Duty Magistrate’s response, John asked : “Were the case diaries and the arrest memo examined?”.

John also asked if the Magistrate asked why Ravi was brought directly from Bengaluru without a transit remand from the Courts there.

“Did the magistrate ask the Special cell why she was being produced directly from Bangalore without a transit remand from Bangalore courts?”, the senior lawyer asked.

Disha Ravi was arrested by a special cell of the Delhi Police from her Bengaluru residence on Saturday night and was produced before the Duty Magistrate at Patiala House Courts, Delhi on Sunday afternoon.

Rebecca John opined that Duty Magistrates should only remand the accused to a single day custody till production before the Regular Magistrate.

“If you are a duty magistrate, sitting on a Sunday, you should at best remand for a day, so that the regular court takes up the matter the next day. Duty magistrates should never send an accused to 5 days PC”, she said.

She added that prosecuting agencies must inform lawyers and next of kin when and where they are producing arrested persons . “This cat and mouse game must stop”, she said.

Also, the remand application must be given to the accused and the magistrate must ensure effective legal representation, she added.

Senior Advocate Saurabh Kirpal asked what was the need to arrest people at the “drop of hat”.

“Why do we arrest people at the drop of a hat? If someone is guilty, prosecute and punish them. Pre-trial arrest (as a substitute for punishment) is an abdication of the responsibility of the police to investigate. It also numbs us as a citizenry”, he said in a tweet.

Senior Advocate Dr Colin Gonsalves, speaking to the NDTV, said that the so-called “toolkit” was only a manual for peaceful protest, and had no content inciting violence.

“Tell us from the toolkit, whatever version you have, which line is a criminal offence”, he asked.

Disha Ravi has been arrested in an FIR registered by the Delhi Police on February 4 over a ‘toolkit’ shared by international climate activist Greta Thunberg about the farmers protests in Twitter.

The case against unnamed persons was registered on charges of criminal conspiracy, sedition and various other sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Delhi Police said that Disha Ravi is an Editor of the Toolkit Google Doc & key conspirator in document’s formulation & dissemination.

“She started WhatsApp Group & collaborated to make the Toolkit doc. She worked closely with them to draft the document.

In this process,they all collaborated with pro Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State. She was the one who shared the Toolkit Doc with Greta Thunberg.Later, she asked Greta to remove the main Doc after its incriminating details accidentally got into public domain. This is many times more than the 2 lines editing that she claims”, Delhi police said in a tweet after her remand.

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