The Supreme Court on Friday said that adverse remarks made by the Delhi High Court about Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam should not prejudice his case, Live Law reported.

The High Court had made the remarks about Imam in its October 18 order denying bail to activist Umar Khalid in a case pertaining to an alleged larger conspiracy behind the 2020 Delhi riots.

The High Court had said that Imam was arguably at the “head of the conspiracy” to orchestrate violence. A bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar had also referred to meetings that allegedly took place between Imam and Khalid ahead of the violence.

Imam has been charged for allegedly making inflammatory speeches about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which incited riots in the National Capital.

The Delhi Police have alleged that the violence in February 2020 was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and was hatched by those who organised the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Communal violence had broken out in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020. The clashes claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.

On December 7, Imam, in a special leave petition before the Supreme Court, said that the High Court had made the observations about him without giving him an opportunity to present his stand. He added that the observations are related to the merits of a criminal case in which he also faces accusations, and thus, the remarks could adversely affect his bail application.

The Supreme Court on Friday noted that paragraph 68 of the High Court’s judgement had said that its observations should not have any impact on the merits of the case. “Therefore we clarify that any observation made regarding the role of the petitioner will not prejudice the petitioner in any manner, the Supreme Court said, according to Bar and Bench.

A bench of Justices SK Kaul and AS Oka remarked that such observations are made when bail appeals are heard at length, in a manner similar to hearings of final appeals against conviction. “Bail applications should be heard for not more than 10 minutes,” the court orally remarked.