The Delhi government on Friday gave the sanction to prosecute former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and others in the 2016 sedition case, ANI reported. The sanction has been pending with the Arvind Kejriwal government since last year.

On February 19, a court in Delhi had directed the government to file a status report by April 3 on the pendency of the sanctions. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that he does not have a say in the home department’s decision.

The police had filed a chargesheet in the case in January 2019, naming student activists Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya in the sedition case. The other accused include Kashmiri students Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayees Rasool and Bashir Bhat.

The case pertains to the raising of “anti-national” slogans at a protest in 2016 against the hanging of Afzal Guru, the mastermind behind the 2013 Parliament attack. Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya were arrested in February 2016 on sedition charges for their involvement in the protest.

After the sanction, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha said the Delhi government, “as a matter of policy and as a matter of principle, does not and has not intervened in any of such cases”, PTI reported. He said the party’s government had not stopped prosecution in any case during its term, including in cases against its own MLAs.

Chadha said it was “purely a procedural matter”, and only the judiciary should decide on the merits of each case. “It is not for governments to decide on the merits of such cases,” he added.

Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party chief Manoj Tiwari welcomed the development but claimed the Kejriwal government gave the approval probably in view of the “current political situation”.

Kanhaiya Kumar thanked the Delhi government for the decision. “I request the Delhi Police and public prosecutors to now take this case seriously, conduct a speedy trial in a fast-track court, and ensure justice in a court of law rather than a court of TV,” he tweeted.