The Delhi High Court on Friday said it will hear bail appeals filed byactivists Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam together on May 6 in a case of alleged conspiracy to incite the North East Delhi riots of 2020, the Live Law reported.

Khalid was arrested on September 2020, after clashes broke out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi in February 2020. He has been booked for delivery a speech in Amravati under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and has been in custody since then.

Imam was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in April 2020 for making allegedly inflammatory speeches at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University and the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. Three months later, the police had accused him of sedition. A chargesheet against him said that the violence in Delhi was a result of his speeches.

Both of them have been denied bail by a sessions court in Delhi, following which they challenged the order in the Delhi High Court.

On Friday, a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar was hearing Khalid’s petition. The judges noted that a challenge to Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with sedition, was pending before the Supreme Court. They decided to hear Khalid’s plea after the Supreme Court’s verdict was out on May 5.

“The matter challenging Section 124A is before the Supreme Court,” Bhatnagar said, according to Bar and Bench. “So, it will have bearing on this matter as well.”

A former Army officer, Major General (Retired) SG Vombatkere, and the Editors Guild of India have challenged Section 124A in the Supreme Court. The provision states that whoever “brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India” can be held to have committed the offence of sedition.

The maximum punishment for the offence is life imprisonment, with or without a fine.

The petitioners have contended that the sedition law criminalises expression on the basis of vague definitions of “disaffection towards the government”, which is an unreasonable restriction on free speech.

After the Delhi High Court listed Khalid’s appeal for May 6, Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, appearing for Imam, said the case against his client also pertained to sedition, the Bar and Bench reported.

“Okay, you want us to hear these [Khalid and Imam’s bail appeals] together?” Justice Mridul asked. As Mir agreed to the judge’s proposal, the court scheduled to hear both Khalid and Imam’s pleas on May 6.