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Toolkit Case: Police Grill Nikita and Shantanu; Secure Disha Ravi's Custody for Joint Interrogation

File photo of activist Disha Ravi.

File photo of activist Disha Ravi.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma sent Ravi for custodial interrogation even as a sessions court is likely to give its order on Tuesday on Ravi's bail plea.

The Delhi Police was on Monday granted a day's custody of 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi by a court in the toolkit case after it said that she has to be confronted with the two other suspects — Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk — who were questioned by the cyber cell here. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma sent Ravi for custodial interrogation even as a sessions court is likely to give its order on Tuesday on Ravi's bail plea.

Ravi, who was produced before the court on expiry of her three-day judicial remand, through her lawyer opposed the plea of the investigators, saying those she had to be confronted with are on bail, but the prosecution said that Jacob and Muluk can be arrested if needed. Police sought five days of custodial interrogation contending that during her interrogation, Ravi shifted the entire blame on Jacob and Muluk who cannot be arrested because they are currently on transit bail".

They need to be confronted with Ravi. Nikita was served with a notice to join the probe but she did not join the interrogation. It is a case which has transnational ramifications, with the involvement of those who have expressed their disaffection for this country, the prosecution told the court.

The probe agency said that they may arrest Jacob and Muluk as well in the future if there is a requirement. There was the involvement of all three accused. We have to confront all three. We only have seven days more to seek custodial interrogation, the prosecution told the court referring to the provisions of the law in the FIR that mandate custodial interrogation only up to 15 days post-arrest.

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Lawyer Nikita Jacob and Muluk, an engineer, were on Monday questioned at the Delhi Police's Cyber cell office in Dwarka, a senior police officer said. The Delhi Police, probing the "toolkit Google doc" backing the farmers' agitation that was shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg, had arrested Bengaluru-based activist Disha Ravi on February 13 while Jacob and Muluk were granted pre-arrest bail by the Bombay High Court.

Police had alleged that the toolkit was part of global conspiracy to create unrest and trigger violence in India in the garb of the farmers' protest against the agri laws. Both Jacob and Muluk were served notice to join the probe, the officer said. Police were, however, tight-lipped on other queries related to questioning, including the duration.

The Delhi High Court had on Friday directed the police not to leak any probe details and asked media houses not to broadcast any such material, following a plea by Ravi. Ravi's counsel on Monday opposed the police plea for remand, saying why did the police wait till February 22 to call the other two suspects, when Ravi had been arrested on February 13. The counsel also said that she can be confronted with the two even in judicial custody. What was I (Ravi) doing for the last five days in custody? They did not take me to my hometown for the probe. They have a valid requirement to confront, but that may be met while I am in judicial custody. Two accused are already on bail, the lawyer said.

The defence counsel also informed the court that a sessions court, a superior court than that of a magistrate's, has reserved its order on Ravi's bail plea for Tuesday. I have moved a bail application, order on which is reserved for tomorrow. Right now seeking police custody means overreaching the sessions court, that has reserved order on bail, the defence said.

The public prosecutor opposed the submission, saying, It's wrong to say we are trying to influence sessions court. This is strange to say that just because sessions court has reserved order, this court should not hear the remand plea. We have our right to seek (police custody), they have their right," the lawyer said. We are not saying Disha was not a part of Zoom meeting, we are probing if she was. We did not seek police custody after five days because we did not need it then. We are seeking now because there is a requirement, police said.

The police further questioned as to why the accused is treating police custody as punishment and that it was just for the purpose of investigation, The defence, however, said that even law disfavours police custody. Regarding summoning the co-accused late, police said, We had sent the summons to Jacob on February 12, but she did not join and evaded.

On Friday, Ravi was sent to three days' judicial custody after police had said her custodial interrogation was not required for the time being. The agency had said that it would seek her further interrogation once Jacob and Muluk join the interrogation on February 22.

The Delhi High Court, in its Friday order, had asked media houses to ensure that no leaked investigation material is broadcast as it could affect the probe and directed Delhi Police to abide by its stand on affidavit that it has not leaked nor intends to leak any probe details to the press. Ravi was arrested by a Cyber Cell team of the Delhi Police from Bengaluru and brought to Delhi. She was booked on sedition and other charges.

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first published:February 22, 2021, 22:10 IST
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