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Delhi HC asks Sharjeel Imam to approach Trial Court to seek interim bail in seditious speeches case

Sharjeel Imam to seek bail in view of recent SC order wherein the sedition law has been kept in abeyance till the Union Government reconsiders the provision

Sabrangindia 26 May 2022

Trail Court
Image Courtesy: indianexpress.com

On May 26, 2022, the Delhi High Court asked Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam to approach the Trial Court in order to seek interim bail in connection with FIR 22/2020 pertaining to the sedition case registered against him for his allegedly provocative speeches against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

A bench comprising Justices Mukta Gupta and Mini Pushkarna granted him the liberty to seek bail in view of the recent Supreme Court order which directed to keep in abeyance, the sedition law (IPC Section 124-A) until the Union Government reconsiders the provision.

However, the reason why the bench disposed of the interim bail application was due to the preliminary objection raised by Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad with respect to the maintainability of the interim bail application before the High Court. Prasad reportedly submitted that according to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling, the bail application has to be moved in the first instance before the Special Court and if aggrieved, an appeal would thereafter lie before the High Court.

Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir had argued that the allegations in the appeal relates to the offence of sedition essentially and thus his case would be covered by the Supreme Court order, reported LiveLaw.

Brief background of cases against Sharjeel Imam

Sharjeel Imam was arrested by the Delhi police on January 28, 2020 from his home village in Bihar, after the police in five states, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur reportedly filed cases under sedition and terrorism in seven First Information Report (FIRs) against him. He is currently lodged in Tihar, New Delhi.

In 2021, Sharjeel Imam had filed an application for a regular bail plea in connection with FIR No. 242/2019 which has alleged that he delivered provocative speeches in 2019 which led to Delhi Riots at various places observing that the tone and tenor of the incendiary speech tend to have a debilitating effect upon public tranquillity, peace and harmony of the society.

FIR 242/2019 was registered under Section 143/147/148/149/186/353/332/333/307/308/435/427/323/341/120B/34 IPC, u/s 3/4 Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act & u/s 25/27 Arms Act.

This bail was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge Anuj Agrawal on October 22, 2021, even though the Court had reportedly observed that the evidence against Imam was "scanty and sketchy" to take a prima facie view that his speeches incited riots. It denied him bail noting that further examination was needed to ascertain if the speech amounted to the offence of sedition under Section 124A IPC and promotion of communal disharmony under Section 153A IPC, reported LiveLaw.

Interestingly, on November 27, 2021, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Sharjeel Imam in connection with FIR No. 50/2020 (a sedition case registered against him in Aligarh) for allegedly delivering an 'anti-national speech' at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during Anti CAA-NRC protests.

FIR 50/2020 was registered under Sections 124A, 153A, 153B and 505(2) I.P.C

While granting him bail, the Bench of Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh noted “Neither he called anyone to bear arms nor any violence was incited as a result of the speech delivered by him.”

The same year, Imam had also filed a bail application in connection with FIR No. 22/2020 (with respect to the speeches made by him in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia area in Delhi) before the Delhi Court. FIR 22/2020 was registered by the Delhi Police under sec. 124A, 153A, 505 of the Indian Penal Code along with sec. 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), which was added later. However, the said regular bail plea was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat on January 24, 2022.

On April 28, 2022, Sharjeel Imam moved the Delhi High Court challenging a Trial Court order which had dismissed the bail plea in connection with FIR No. 59/2020 (a case alleging larger conspiracy into the Delhi riots of 2020) involving charges under Indian Penal Code and UAPA. However, on May 6, a division bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar further adjourned hearings listing the matter to be heard on May 26. The Bench had adjourned the matter on the grounds that it would be appropriate to await the outcome of the Supreme Court regarding the challenge to the constitutional validity of the offence of ‘Sedition’ under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code before continuing with the present appeals.

https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gifDuring this hearing, the Court had decided to hear another challenge made by Imam seeking bail in connection with FIR 22/2020, a case relating to the alleged inflammatory speeches made by him at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia area in Delhi against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA).

During the course of the hearing, Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir appearing for Sharjeel Imam, relied on an order passed by the Allahabad HC granting bail in a case concerning one of the speeches forming part of the FIR in question. Accordingly, Justice Mridul reportedly said, “If you're saying that order passed by Allahabad HC granting you bail, if you're pressing that, and you say it covers the present appeal, then you have to show us how and what were the allegations in the FIR?”

Today, after directing Imam to approach the lower court to seek interim bail in connection with the sedition case registered under FIR no. 22/2020, the Court has listed the pending appeals challenging the order denying Imam bail as well as framing charges against him in the matter on August 26, reportedly LiveLaw.

There are three more FIRs registered against Imam:

State

FIR No.

Offences

Assam

01/2020

121(A), 124(A), 153(A), 153(B) IPC and S.13(1), 15(a)(iii), 18 UAPA

Manipur

16(1)/2020

121, 121(A), 124(A), 120B, 153(A) IPC

Arunachal Pradesh

02/2020

124A, 153A, 153B IPC

Related:

“You're asking us to conduct a re-trial. We can't test the veracity of the statement at the stage of bail”: Delhi HC on Umar Khalid’s bail plea
Delhi HC adjourns hearings in bail pleas of Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam
Delhi HC reserves order on Sharjeel Imam’s plea against trial court order denying default bail
Sharjeel Imam accuses Delhi Police of hollow arguments, says government criticism important
Sharjeel Imam tried to create complete anarchy: Gov’t tells Delhi court
Never-the-less, they persisted: Human Rights Heroes of 2021
Delhi violence: What is happening in case involving the conspiracy FIR under UAPA?
Tenets of free and fair trial are sacrosanct: Delhi court on media leak of chargesheet in violence case

Delhi HC asks Sharjeel Imam to approach Trial Court to seek interim bail in seditious speeches case

Sharjeel Imam to seek bail in view of recent SC order wherein the sedition law has been kept in abeyance till the Union Government reconsiders the provision

Trail Court
Image Courtesy: indianexpress.com

On May 26, 2022, the Delhi High Court asked Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam to approach the Trial Court in order to seek interim bail in connection with FIR 22/2020 pertaining to the sedition case registered against him for his allegedly provocative speeches against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

A bench comprising Justices Mukta Gupta and Mini Pushkarna granted him the liberty to seek bail in view of the recent Supreme Court order which directed to keep in abeyance, the sedition law (IPC Section 124-A) until the Union Government reconsiders the provision.

However, the reason why the bench disposed of the interim bail application was due to the preliminary objection raised by Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad with respect to the maintainability of the interim bail application before the High Court. Prasad reportedly submitted that according to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling, the bail application has to be moved in the first instance before the Special Court and if aggrieved, an appeal would thereafter lie before the High Court.

Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir had argued that the allegations in the appeal relates to the offence of sedition essentially and thus his case would be covered by the Supreme Court order, reported LiveLaw.

Brief background of cases against Sharjeel Imam

Sharjeel Imam was arrested by the Delhi police on January 28, 2020 from his home village in Bihar, after the police in five states, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur reportedly filed cases under sedition and terrorism in seven First Information Report (FIRs) against him. He is currently lodged in Tihar, New Delhi.

In 2021, Sharjeel Imam had filed an application for a regular bail plea in connection with FIR No. 242/2019 which has alleged that he delivered provocative speeches in 2019 which led to Delhi Riots at various places observing that the tone and tenor of the incendiary speech tend to have a debilitating effect upon public tranquillity, peace and harmony of the society.

FIR 242/2019 was registered under Section 143/147/148/149/186/353/332/333/307/308/435/427/323/341/120B/34 IPC, u/s 3/4 Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act & u/s 25/27 Arms Act.

This bail was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge Anuj Agrawal on October 22, 2021, even though the Court had reportedly observed that the evidence against Imam was "scanty and sketchy" to take a prima facie view that his speeches incited riots. It denied him bail noting that further examination was needed to ascertain if the speech amounted to the offence of sedition under Section 124A IPC and promotion of communal disharmony under Section 153A IPC, reported LiveLaw.

Interestingly, on November 27, 2021, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Sharjeel Imam in connection with FIR No. 50/2020 (a sedition case registered against him in Aligarh) for allegedly delivering an 'anti-national speech' at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during Anti CAA-NRC protests.

FIR 50/2020 was registered under Sections 124A, 153A, 153B and 505(2) I.P.C

While granting him bail, the Bench of Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh noted “Neither he called anyone to bear arms nor any violence was incited as a result of the speech delivered by him.”

The same year, Imam had also filed a bail application in connection with FIR No. 22/2020 (with respect to the speeches made by him in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia area in Delhi) before the Delhi Court. FIR 22/2020 was registered by the Delhi Police under sec. 124A, 153A, 505 of the Indian Penal Code along with sec. 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), which was added later. However, the said regular bail plea was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat on January 24, 2022.

On April 28, 2022, Sharjeel Imam moved the Delhi High Court challenging a Trial Court order which had dismissed the bail plea in connection with FIR No. 59/2020 (a case alleging larger conspiracy into the Delhi riots of 2020) involving charges under Indian Penal Code and UAPA. However, on May 6, a division bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar further adjourned hearings listing the matter to be heard on May 26. The Bench had adjourned the matter on the grounds that it would be appropriate to await the outcome of the Supreme Court regarding the challenge to the constitutional validity of the offence of ‘Sedition’ under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code before continuing with the present appeals.

https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gifDuring this hearing, the Court had decided to hear another challenge made by Imam seeking bail in connection with FIR 22/2020, a case relating to the alleged inflammatory speeches made by him at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia area in Delhi against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA).

During the course of the hearing, Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir appearing for Sharjeel Imam, relied on an order passed by the Allahabad HC granting bail in a case concerning one of the speeches forming part of the FIR in question. Accordingly, Justice Mridul reportedly said, “If you're saying that order passed by Allahabad HC granting you bail, if you're pressing that, and you say it covers the present appeal, then you have to show us how and what were the allegations in the FIR?”

Today, after directing Imam to approach the lower court to seek interim bail in connection with the sedition case registered under FIR no. 22/2020, the Court has listed the pending appeals challenging the order denying Imam bail as well as framing charges against him in the matter on August 26, reportedly LiveLaw.

There are three more FIRs registered against Imam:

State

FIR No.

Offences

Assam

01/2020

121(A), 124(A), 153(A), 153(B) IPC and S.13(1), 15(a)(iii), 18 UAPA

Manipur

16(1)/2020

121, 121(A), 124(A), 120B, 153(A) IPC

Arunachal Pradesh

02/2020

124A, 153A, 153B IPC

Related:

“You're asking us to conduct a re-trial. We can't test the veracity of the statement at the stage of bail”: Delhi HC on Umar Khalid’s bail plea
Delhi HC adjourns hearings in bail pleas of Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam
Delhi HC reserves order on Sharjeel Imam’s plea against trial court order denying default bail
Sharjeel Imam accuses Delhi Police of hollow arguments, says government criticism important
Sharjeel Imam tried to create complete anarchy: Gov’t tells Delhi court
Never-the-less, they persisted: Human Rights Heroes of 2021
Delhi violence: What is happening in case involving the conspiracy FIR under UAPA?
Tenets of free and fair trial are sacrosanct: Delhi court on media leak of chargesheet in violence case

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