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The Chhattisgarh High Court has granted bail to 29 men who were arrested on July 18 for protesting near the Vidhan Sabha in Raipur. They were protesting against alleged inaction regarding people who obtained government jobs based on fake caste certificates. The men will be released from prison on Monday after 55 days.

The issue dates back to 2020 when a high-level committee was formed to verify government jobs obtained with fake caste certificates from 2000 to 2020. The committee found 267 fake caste certificates among government employees, and in November 2020, the General Administration Department wrote to the additional chief secretary to take action based on the committee’s report.

After the government failed to take action, the protestors staged a demonstration near the Vidhan Sabha, holding placards in front of vehicles of the MLAs heading for the last four-day assembly session before the elections.

The men were charged under IPC Sections for obscenity, rioting, and using criminal force on police to obstruct them from performing their duties.

However, a senior government official claimed that appropriate action had been taken in the fake caste certificate case.

Justice Sanjay Kumar Jaiswal, in granting bail, stated, “Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case, nature of the offense, and material collected by the prosecution, particularly, it is a matter of protest. There were many accused persons, in which, only 29 persons have been arrested. Ingredients of Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 are not complied with, trial may likely to take some time, charge-sheet has not been filed, and applicants are in jail since 18.07.2023. I am inclined to release the applicants on regular bail.”

Dalit activist Degree Prasad Chouhan, the state president of the People‚Äôs Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which provided legal assistance to the protestors, stated that the court’s order is a strong rebuke to the repressive power of the ruling party and its misuse of the rule of law. “This order of the Honourable Court also underlines the constitutional importance of the right to protest.”

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