The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam’s prosecution on sedition cases filed against him in different states, Bar and Bench reported. Imam had filed a petition to club the first information reports registered against him across the country and to have them investigated by a single agency.
The top court was informed that only Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have filed their counter affidavits on Imam’s petition and that no responses have been filed by Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and V Ramasubramanian refused to stay Imam’s prosecution and gave the three states two more weeks to file counter affidavits in response to Imam’s petition.
Imam’s lawyer Siddharth Dave told the bench that the case was urgent since the states will soon begin their prosecution against him and the top court was scheduled to begin its vacation period in the next week. “We cannot pass interim orders without seeing the replies of other states,” the court said. “The case is only for consolidation of first information reports. We cannot pass any other orders.”
The matter will be next heard after three weeks.
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 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”.