Kejriwal, Bhushan refuse to seek bail in protest case, ‘released’

A city court allowed Aam Aadmi Party leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, along with 22 other members of the AAP and India Against Corruption, to be "released" without posting bail or personal bonds after they appeared before the court on Tuesday in compliance with summons issued against them.

The 25 accused were chargesheeted by the Delhi Police in October 2012 in three cases filed against them on charges of violation of prohibitory orders, unlawful assembly, rioting, obstructing a public servant, etc during protests against the alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks in August 2012.

The police had alleged that the accused had clashed with personnel who had put up barricades to prevent the protesters from going towards the residences of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and BJP president Nitin Gadkari. Kejriwal, Bhushan and Sisodia had also been accused of leading protesters and inciting violence.

The court of Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja had taken cognisance of the chargesheets and summoned all the accused.

Kejriwal and the other accused admitted their role in violation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, but refused to file an application for bail. During the hearing, Kejriwal told the court that they would "prefer to go to jail in protest against the misuse of police by the state". Bhushan told the court to "take a proactive approach" and that the court "did not need to force the accused to sign bail bonds or furnish security" since there was "no threat of the accused running away".

Advocate Somnath Bharti, who was was representing the accused, told the court that they were willing to sign an "undertaking" promising that they would attend all further court proceedings, instead of asking for bail or furnishing surety.

"Yes we breached Section 144 because we regarded the imposition of prohibitory orders as illegal," Bhushan told the court, adding that "the barricades were very far away from 10 Janpath and Race Course Road and yet, the police used water cannons, teargas and lathicharged the peaceful protest".

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