India World

Disha Ravi: Court grants bail to climate activist who criticised Modi’s ‘anti-farm laws’

An Indian court granted bail to 22-year-old climate activist who was arrested for sharing a document on the ongoing farmer agitation and agricultural laws passed by Modi’s administration.

Police claim Disha Ravi was a “key conspirator” in the “formulation and dissemination” of a protest “toolkit”.

They have accused her of sedition and conspiracy charges. Something which she has denied.

Critics have called her arrest a warning to those who oppose the government and its policies.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers have been protesting for three months against new laws, which they say will benefit only big corporations.

These protests have come to represent one of the biggest challenges faced by right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Ms Ravi is one of the founders of the Indian branch of the Fridays for Future climate strike, was arrested by Delhi police on 13 February from her home in the southern city of Bangalore.

She was flown to Delhi where she appeared before a magistrate and was remanded in custody.

Last week a Delhi court asked the Delhi police whether it had any evidence against Ms Ravi or “are we required to draw inferences and conjectures”. The police were opposed to Ms Ravi’s bail application.

Her lawyer told the court that “having a difference of opinion does not amount to sedition”. He asked the court whether, for example, it would be fair to consider someone who preferred “Kung Fu to yoga” a “Chinese spy” as a result.

While granting bail on Tuesday, Additional Sessions Court Judge Dharmendra Rana said there was “scanty and sketchy evidence” against Ms Ravi and that “I do not find any palpable reason to breach rule of bail for a 22-year-old girl who has absolutely no criminal antecedent”.

Judge Rana also made several strong observations on an individual’s right to dissent, and freedom of speech and expression.

“Even our founding fathers accorded due respect to divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right. The right to dissent is firmly enshrined under Article 19 of The Constitution of India,” Judge Rana said.

“..Sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the government,” he said.