Bail Granted, but with Digital Restraints: Srinagar Journalist Case

Bail in srinagar - Legally speaking

In Srinagar, Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan was recently granted bail in a case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) linked to violence by prisoners at Srinagar Central Jail [Asif Sultan Syeda vs UT of J&K]. Sultan’s arrest this year came shortly after his release on orders of the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court in a preventive detention case dating back to 2019.

Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Gandotra, in an order dated May 10, emphasized that while investigating UAPA offenses is crucial for state security, mere application of these provisions shouldn’t automatically lead to bail rejection, disregarding other legal requirements.

The Court, while ordering Sultan’s release, imposed strict bail conditions. Sultan is prohibited from using secret/encrypted messaging apps or proxy networks and cannot provide telecommunication services from his device to others. Additionally, he must obtain court permission to acquire new mobile devices or SIM cards.

Sultan, a journalist, has been in custody since 2018 and was previously granted bail in a UAPA case in 2022. However, he was subsequently booked under the J&K Public Safety Act.

He received the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award in 2019.

In December 2023, the High Court revoked Sultan’s preventive detention, noting the influence of a previous UAPA case. Following his release from an Uttar Pradesh jail in February, he was detained again in the current UAPA case. Sultan’s counsel argued for bail, stating he wasn’t present during the incident.

However, the State claimed Sultan was involved in a riot in the Central Jail Srinagar. The Court observed that Sultan wasn’t charged under severe UAPA sections and had been in custody for over 72 days. Considering this, bail was granted with conditions.

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About the Author: Payal Singh