The speech delivered by activist Umar Khalid in Maharashtra’s Amravati district in February 2020 was in “bad taste” but that would not make it a terrorist act, the Delhi High Court said on Monday, Live Law reported.
The Delhi Police have alleged that the speech was part of a conspiracy to incite riots in the National Capital in February 2020.
From February 23 to February 29 in 2020, clashes broke out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.
Khalid was arrested in the riots case on September 14, 2020, and is facing charges under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to fuel the riots.
On Monday, a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar was hearing an appeal filed by Khalid challenging a trial court order that refused him bail.
“If the case of the prosecution is premised on how offensive the speech was, that by itself won’t constitute an offence,” Justice Mridul said.
The judge remarked that Khalid’s speech was “offensive and distasteful”.
He added: “It may tantamount to defamation, other offences, but it does not tantamount to a terrorist activity.”
The High Court listed the matter for further hearing on July 4.
Last month, the judges had said that Khalid’s speech in Amravati was “obnoxious and unacceptable”.
At another hearing on April 27, the court had asked him if it was proper to use the word “jumla”, which broadly translates to an empty promise, while speaking about the prime minister. The former Jawaharlal Nehru University student had allegedly used the word in his speech.
However, his counsel had argued that no one had seen footage of the speech when it was included as part of the first information report in the riots case. The lawyer had pointed out that news channel Republic TV had told a lower court that the footage of the speech was not its own, but was tweeted by Bharatiya Janata Party Information Technology Cell chief Amit Malviya.
The activist had also argued that the use of the word “revolution” in his speech could not be construed as a call to violence.