Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday urged the Supreme Court to put an end to the “daily abuse of law” after a Delhi court discharged activists Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha, and eight others in a case related to violence at the city’s Jamia Millia Islamia University in 2019.

Violence had erupted on the Jamia Millia Islamia campus on December 15, 2019, during student protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The Delhi Police was accused of barging into the university campus and using excessive force to quell the demonstrations. The police claimed its action was justified as the protestors had allegedly injured its personnel and set buses on fire.

On Saturday, Additional Sessions Judge (Saket Court) Arul Varma in his order said that the Delhi Police roped in the activists as scapegoats and were unable to apprehend the actual perpetrators of the offence.

Apart from Imam, Zargar and Tanha, the Saket court discharged Mohammed Abuzar, Umair Ahmad, Mohammed Shoaib, Mahmood Anwar, Mohammed Qasim, Mohammed Bilal Nadeem, Shahzar Raza Khan and Chanda Yadav in the case.

The judge added that there was no prima facie evidence that the accused were part of the mob violence, had any weapon, or were throwing stones.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram on Sunday noted that some of the accused in the case have been lodged in jail for nearly three years, while others got bail after many months. “This is pre-trial incarceration,” he said.

The former Cabinet minister questioned whether any action will be taken against the prosecution and the police for keeping the 11 persons in jail before trial.

“Who will give back the months or years that the accused spent in jail?” he asked. “Our criminal justice system that tolerates pre-trial incarceration is an affront to the Constitution of India, especially Articles 19 and 21.”

The Congress leader welcomed the Delhi court’s order for pushing back against the “abuse of the law” and upholding the liberty of those jailed.

On Saturday, Varma in his order also referred to Article 19 of the Constitution of India, and said, “Dissent is nothing but an extension of invaluable fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. It is therefore a right which we are sworn to uphold.”

The liberty of protesting citizens should not have been lightly interfered with, the court said while stating that the prosecution has ex-facie been launched in a “perfunctory and cavalier fashion” against the accused persons.