The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to Tata Institute of Social Sciences student Kris Chudawala, who has been charged with sedition by Mumbai Police for allegedly chanting slogans in support of Jawaharlal Nehru University PhD student Sharjeel Imam at a queer pride parade in the city.
Justice SK Shinde granted Chudawala bail and asked the police why it had failed to comply with the guidelines laid down by the court in the 2015 Aseem Trivedi verdict, Hindustan Times reported. Trivedi, a cartoonist, was charged with sedition in 2012 for his artwork. The law requires the police to seek written opinion of the government’s law officer before invoking sedition charges under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.
“Does this [sedition case] satisfy the twin requirement of intention and tendency to create public disorder, as contemplated under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code?” Shinde asked public prosecutor Deepak Thakare.
Thakare alleged that Chudawala, along with other participants in the march, raised slogans such as “Sharjeel tere sapno ko hum manzil tak pahuchaenge [Sharjeel, we will turn your dreams into reality]”.
The public prosecutor told the judge that Imam, at an event at Aligarh Muslim University last month, had advocated cutting off “Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated Chicken’s Neck”. In response, the judge said it meant that Chudawala did not advocate it first. “Somebody else has proclaimed the ideology, she has merely supported it,” he pointed out.
The court told Chudawala to report to the investigating officer in the case on Wednesday and Thursday from 11 am to 2 pm, and as and when called by the police. The judge also directed the student to submit her mobile phone to the police officer, and not leave the city.
The court said Chudawala should be released on a personal bond of Rs 25,000, if arrested, India Today reported. The matter will be next heard on March 24.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya had filed a case earlier this month against those who had chanted the slogans at the queer march. He claimed that “anti-national slogans” were raised, “few persons abused the country”, and “the function was misused to support Shaheen Bagh/anti-CAA feelings”. He threatened to start a sit-in at Azad Maidan police station if action was not taken in three days. He also tweeted a video of the alleged sloganeering.