The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the police to respond to activist Sharjeel Imam’s bail plea in connection with a case filed against him for allegedly delivering an inflammatory speech at Jamia Millia Islamia University in 2019 during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Live Law reported.

Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar issued a notice to the prosecution and listed the matter for next hearing on February 11.

Police have alleged that Imam made a provocative speech on December 13, 2019, which led to riots two days later when a mob of over 3,000 people attacked the police and torched several vehicles in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area.

On September 2, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad had argued before a Delhi court that Imam began his speech with the traditional Muslim salutation “assalamu-alaikum”, which showed that “his address is to a particular community”.

In October, the trial court had dismissed Imam’s bail plea, but stated in its order that the evidence that rioters were incited by his speech was “scanty and sketchy”.

The order added: “Once the legally impermissible foundation of imaginative thinking and disclosure statement of accused/co-accused are removed, the prosecution version on this count appears to be crumbling like a house of cards.”

The court had denied bail to Imam, saying that the matter of whether his speech falls under the ambit of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (sedition) or not “requires a deeper analysis at an appropriate stage”.

Imam moved the Delhi High Court against this order. He submitted that his co-accused in the case, who were arrested for allegedly stirring the violence, have been granted bail, but he was still incarcerated for over 20 months now.

The activist is presently lodged in Tihar Jail since he has also been charged in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.

Communal violence that broke out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26 last year. The Delhi Police have claimed that there was a larger conspiracy which led to the violence, in which 53 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.