A Delhi court on Friday granted bail to activist Sharjeel Imam in a case in which he has been accused of giving a provocative speech that led to violence in the national capital in 2019.
Despite getting bail, Imam will remain in custody as other cases are pending against him.
Imam was booked on sedition charges after the police accused him of making inflammatory statements during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens exercise. He was arrested from Bihar on January 28, 2020.
He has also been booked in connection with an alleged “conspiracy” related to planning the communal riots that erupted in Delhi in February 2020.
The trial court had observed in October that the evidence against Iman was not enough to prove that his speech incited riots.
“Neither any eye witness has been cited by prosecution nor there is any other evidence on record to suggest that co-accused got instigated and committed the alleged act of rioting etc upon hearing the speech of applicant/accused Sharjeel Imam,” the court had said.
It had also said that the prosecution’s case has gaps that could not be filled through conjectures.
“In either case, it is not legally permissible to build the edifice of prosecution version upon the foundation of imagination or upon inadmissible confession before a police officer,” the court had observed.
However, his bail plea was dismissed noting that further examination was needed to ascertain if the speech amounted to sedition under Indian Penal Code Section 124A.
The former Jawaharlal Nehru University student had sought interim bail after the Supreme Court had put the sedition law in abeyance. He had contended that the case against him had been significantly diluted on account of the Supreme Court judgement.
Imam’s bail comes four days after the Delhi High Court had asked the trial court to consider his relief application as he has been in custody for 31 months.
The court, on Friday, noted that the trial court’s observations have not been set aside by superior court. As far as the offence of sedition is concerned, the pending cases are in abeyance following Supreme Court orders, the court added.
The judges also said that it is not disputed if the activist’s alleged crime is punishable with three years in jail.