Press Trust of India reports that a Delhi court on Saturday, March 19 granted bail to former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani, who had been arrested on sedition charges in connection with an event on February 10 at the Delhi Press Club . Police had opposed the bail plea saying the event was “an attack on the soul of India” and it was “contempt of court.”
Additional sessions Judge Deepak Garg announced the bail after hearing the police and Gilani’s counsel, who said there was no evidence that Gilani had raised anti-India slogans at the event. Gilani had to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and one surety of like amount. Satish Tamta, counsel for Gilani, had aruged that criticising Supreme Court judgments was not contempt of court.
Delhi Police said Gilani and others were eulogising as martyrs Maqbool Bhat who was hanged in 1984 and Afzal Guru who was hanged three years ago after being convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case.
”If he had not liked the SC judgement, he could have thought in his mind and within the four walls of the his house. But he had assembled people for the meeting in the heart of the Capital for that purpose which was an attack on the soul of India,” police had said while opposing the bail plea. Gilani's counsel, however, pointed out that the first information report (FIR) states that people raising slogans at the venue had been told to desist by the office-bearers of the Press Club and asked to leave, which they did.
”There is nothing on record that Gilani shouted anti-India slogans or asked others to do so. It was a meeting of intellectuals to discuss the Kashmir issue,” counsel for Gilani said. He pointed out that Gilani, who was arrested on February 16, has been in jail for last around one month and is not required for the probe any further.
Former professor of Delhi University, Gilani was arrested on February 16, and had filed his bail applications before the Patiala House Court. On February 19, a magisterial court had dismissed his bail application after the police alleged that "hatred" was being generated against the government. Meanwhile, Gilani's judicial custody was also extended by two weeks by a Delhi court.
Police had earlier told the court that an event was held on February 10 in which banners were placed showing Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat as martyrs.It had also said the hall in the Press Club was booked by Gilani through one Ali Javed by using his credit card and another person Mudassar was also involved. At the Press Club event, a group had allegedly shouted slogans hailing Guru, following which the police had lodged a case under sections 124 A (sedition), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC against Gilani and other unnamed persons. The police had claimed to have registered the FIR taking suo motu cognisance of media clips of the incident.
Following registration of the FIR, the police questioned professor Gilani and Ali Javed, a Press Club member who had booked the hall for the event, for two days. Earlier, Gilani was arrested in connection with the 2001 Parliament attack case but was acquitted for "need of evidence" by Delhi High Court in October 2003, a decision later upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2005.