A Delhi court today allowed Disha Ravi, the 22-year-old climate activist charged with sedition and whose arrest raised questions over due process followed by Delhi Police, will be allowed a copy of the FIR (detailing charges against her), a remand application and a fresh set of clothes.
The court also allowed Ms Ravi access to her lawyer – a basic right of those accused and one she did not enjoy when produced before the court on Monday – and her family while in police custody.
She will be allowed to meet her lawyer for 30 minutes every day, and her family for 15.
All this comes after Ms Ravi’s lawyer, Abhinav Shekhari, petitioned the Patiala House Court.
Ms Ravi was arrested from her Bengaluru home on Sunday and has been in the custody of Delhi Police since. The police say Ms Ravi and two others – lawyer Nikita Jacob and activist Shantanu Muluk – prepared and shared an online document linked to the farmers’ protest.
The police allege Ms Ravi was a key conspirator and, in an attempt to revive a Khalistani group, prepared and spread the document that is meant to “spread disaffection against the Indian state”.
The centre has repeatedly claimed that “Khalistanis” have hijacked the farmers’ largely peaceful protest against its controversial agriculture laws.
Police handling is at the centre of rising outrage, with activists, the opposition and others questioning the manner in which Ms Ravi was arrested, flown to Delhi and produced in court.
The police say due process was followed – that Ms Ravi was arrested in the presence of her mother, a local police officer and a policewoman, that the arrest memo has her mother’s signature, and that she was in touch with her lawyers.
However, Ms Ravi was then presented in court without that legal counsel; she was forced to argue her own case and did so under tremendous pressure, telling the court: “I did not make the ‘toolkit’. We wanted to support the farmers. I edited two lines on February 3.”
Among those to speak out in support of Ms Ravi are Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, and the chief ministers of Bengal and Delhi.
Mr Ramesh called her arrest and detention “completely atrocious” and “unwarranted harassment and intimidation”. Mamata Banerjee condemned the centre for arresting those protesting against its policies, and Arvind Kejriwal called Ms Ravi’s arrest an “unprecedented attack on democracy“.
Senior lawyer Rebecca John tweeted alleging “shocking abdication of judicial duties” on part of the magistrate at Delhi’s Patiala House court.
“Deeply disappointed by the conduct of the duty magistrate…who remanded a young woman to five days in police custody, without first ensuring that she was being represented by counsel,” she added.