The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to respond to a petition filed by Jawaharlal Nehru University PhD student Sharjeel Imam to club the sedition cases registered against him in different states and to have them investigated by a single agency, Live Law reported.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah issued notices to states where the first information reports against him were filed. The matter has been listed for hearing after two weeks.
Senior advocate Siddharth Dave, representing Imam, referred to how the top court stayed all multiple FIRs filed against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami for his comments against Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the Palghar lynching case. The court had allowed the consolidation of several FIRs filed against the journalist in various parts of the country and their transfer to Mumbai, where Goswami lives.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta refuted the arguments and said Goswami’s case was completely different from Imam’s. “FIRs in Arnab’s case were cyclostyled,” he added. “Not in this one.”
On May 1, the court had asked Delhi Police to file a report in the matter. Mehta told the court that the report was ready and will be filed by Wednesday.
Imam was arrested by Delhi police’s Crime Branch on January 28 from Jehanabad in Bihar for allegedly making inflammatory speeches during the protests at Jamia Millia Islamia University against the Citizenship Amendment Act in December. The PhD student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for Historical Studies has also been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the protests. The amended UAPA allows the government to proscribe individuals as terrorists and empowers more officers of the National Investigation Agency to probe cases. A person charged under the Act can be jailed for up to seven years.
The police had earlier charged Imam with sedition, accusing him of promoting enmity between groups and instigating riots.
In a clip on social media, Imam was purportedly heard telling protestors to “cut off Assam from India” by occupying the “Muslim-dominated Chicken’s Neck”. The comment was widely perceived as secessionist, but Imam later claimed that he had called for peaceful protests to “block roads going to Assam” – “basically a call for chakka jam”.