Sharjeel Imam’s speech did not incite violence, give call to bear arms: Allahabad HC in bail order
The court, however, said that the exact statements that Imam made and their effects could be examined at the time of the trial, which is yet to begin.
Activist Sharjeel Imam did not incite violence or give a call to bear arms in his speech at the Aligarh Muslim University in January 2019, the Allahabad High Court said in its bail order last week.
Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh passed the order on November 27, and the detailed order became available on Monday. The judge granted bail to Imam.
“...Without referring to the exact allegation made against the applicant [Imam], it may be noted that on an undisputed basis neither the applicant called any one to bear arms nor any violence was incited as a result of the speech delivered by the applicant,” Justice Singh said.
The High Court, however, said that the exact statements that Imam made and the effect that they had can be examined at the time of the trial, which is yet to begin.
Justice Singh added that Imam has been in custody for over a year and two months, while the maximum punishment that he may face if he is convicted is three years’ imprisonment.
“For that reason alone the applicant has become entitled to bail, at this stage, in the undisputed facts of the case,” the court said.
The court also directed Imam to file a personal bond of Rs 50,000 along with two sureties of the same amount. The activist was also ordered not to intimidate or put pressure on witnesses, and to co-operate with the trial.
The activist, however, remains in Delhi’s Tihar Jail as he has also been charged in the Delhi riots conspiracy case and the Jamia violence case.
Imam faces allegations under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity grounds of religion, race), 153B (making statements provoking breach of peace) and 505(2) (statements made which are alarming, false intention to create disharmony) of the Indian Penal Code.
In his speech, the activist had purportedly asked protestors to “cut off Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated Chicken’s Neck”. He made the speech in the context of a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The comment was widely perceived as secessionist, but Imam later claimed that he had called for peaceful protests to “block roads going to Assam” – “basically a call for chakka jam”.