The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted bail to activist Sharjeel Imam in a case about making allegedly seditious speeches during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act , Live Law reported.

He will, however, remain in jail in the larger conspiracy case involving Unlawful Activities Prevention Act charges related to the Delhi riots, reported Bar and Bench.

A division bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain on Wednesday allowed Imam’s bail plea that had challenged the trial court order denying him relief in the case. Imam has been in jail since January 28, 2020.

The case pertains to speeches that Imam, a former scholar at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, delivered at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in 2019 and the Aligarh Muslim University in 2020 during protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act.

The police alleged that in his speech at the Aligarh Muslim University, Imam had asked those protesting against the amended citizenship law at the time to “cut off Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated chicken’s neck”.

The so-called chicken’s neck, or the Siliguri corridor, refers to a very narrow track of land around Siliguri city in West Bengal that connects India’s North East to the rest of the country.

Imam had moved the High Court after a Delhi court on February 17 denied him bail. The trial court was following a January 30 direction from the Delhi High Court asking it to decide on Imam’s statutory bail application.

The trial court had said that the activist’s speeches given at Jamia Millia Islamia and the Aligarh Muslim University could be deemed “seditious” in the “dictionary meaning”, The Indian Express reported.

“Although the applicant did not ask anybody to pick weapons and kill the people, his speeches and activities mobilised the public which disrupted the city and might be the main reason for the outbreak of the riots,” the trial court said.

It added the activist had manipulated the “real” facts and incited the public in order to create havoc. The trial court also said that Imam had captured the minds of “a particular community” and had incited them to engage in disruptive activities.

In response, Imam had argued that he was eligible for statutory bail as he had spent four years in jail. He had said that the maximum sentence if convicted under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was seven years.

Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that individuals can be released from jail if they have spent more than half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offence in question in custody.

Also read: Why the dismissal of Sharjeel Imam’s bail application is legally tenuous