Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others are set to face trial in the 2016 sedition case after a court in Delhi on Monday took cognisance of the chargesheet filed against them, and summoned the accused on March 15, reported The Indian Express. The action came a year after the Delhi government gave the sanction to prosecute the accused.
“The sanction to prosecute accused persons has already been filed by the Home Department, GNCT [Delhi government], dated February 27, 2020,” Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma of the Patiala House Courts said. “After careful perusal of the chargesheet and consideration of the material, all the accused persons are summoned to face trial and they have been summoned through investigation officer for March 15, 2021.”
The Delhi Police’s anti-terrorism wing Special Cell had filed a chargesheet in the case in January 2019, naming Kumar along with student activists 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 Basharat Ali and Bashir Bhatt.
The police said the accused chanted “anti-national” slogans at a campus event in February 2016 marking the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Kumar was the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union at the time of the incident, which had become a national flashpoint in 2016.
Delhi Police cited both oral and electronic evidence to press sedition and other charges against Kumar. The police possess video footage where Kumar “is seen leading the students, who were raising anti-national slogans (sic.)”, the chargesheet said.
Kumar and others also face charges under Indian Penal Code Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 465 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 143, 149 (being a member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
The wait for a prosecution sanction against the accused had been a bone of contention between the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi and the Centre. Several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders had accused AAP of shielding the students by not giving the go-ahead.