Delhi HC asks police to reply on Sharjeel Imam’s plea against denial of bail
In January, a trial court had denied bail to the student leader in a case related to making alleged inflammatory speeches.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the police to file its response to student activist Sharjeel Imam’s petition challenging a trial court verdict that had denied him bail in a case related to making alleged inflammatory speeches, PTI reported.
The police have been asked to reply within 10 days.
The case pertains to four speeches made by Imam in Aligarh Muslim University, Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, Gaya in Bihar and Asansol in West Bengal during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act between December 2019 and January 2020.
On January 24, a trial court in Delhi had denied granting bail to Imam. The court had also charged him in the case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including sedition.
Imam has challenged the trial court order in the Delhi High Court.
At Wednesday’s hearing, a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anoop Kumar Mendiratta noted that the trial court had “dealt with nothing” when it came to the question of granting bail, Bar and Bench reported.
The judges also questioned the Delhi Police on why Imam should not be granted bail.
“All these offences are [punishable with] less than seven years [of jail],” the court said. “We are asking you [Delhi Police] why should he not be enlarged? Is he a flight risk? Will he tamper with evidence? Who are the witnesses?”
In response, the Delhi Police’s lawyer argued that Imam could not be granted bail as he had been charged with sedition which is punishable with life sentence. To this, Justice Mridul said that the sedition law is applicable only if someone incites violence.
“The sedition issue has been dealt with by the court long back,” the judge said. “It is very clear...There has to be a conscious act propagating [and] promoting violence.”
Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir appearing for Imam, told the court that the first information report against the student leader had been registered by picking out three lines from one of his speeches.
“If you read the speech in its entirety, you will see it is different,” Mir argued.
The police have alleged that in his speech, Imam had purportedly asked those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act to “cut off Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated chicken’s neck”. Imam’s lawyers have argued that the statement was a way to refer to a chakka jam call that he had made in the speech.
Imam was arrested from Bihar on January 28, 2020, and has been in custody since then. Imam was booked for sedition and under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He has also been booked for in connection with the alleged “conspiracy” related to planning the communal riots which erupted in Delhi in February 2020.