Sharjeel Imam granted bail in the 2019 Sedition Case

In his bail plea, Imam urged that since the Supreme Court has placed sedition on hold, the circumstances were better for the granting of release.

Sharjeel Imam
Image courtesy: India Today

On September 30, Sharjeel Imam, a former JNU student, was granted bail by a Delhi court in a sedition case where he is charged with making a “provocative remark” that allegedly incited violence in the Jamia Nagar neighborhood in 2019. Imam will nonetheless continue to be in detention as long as he hasn’t received bail in the other charges that are still ongoing against him.

In the FIR 242/2019 filed at the New Friends Colony Police station, Sessions Judge Anuj Agrawal granted bail to Sharjeel. Days prior, the Delhi High Court had instructed the trial court to consider Sharjeel Imam’s request for relief under Section 436-A CrPC on the grounds that he had spent 31 months in prison as of the filing of the FIR. The Saket Court had refused Imam regular bail in October 2021, stating that the “incendiary speech” he delivered had a detrimental impact upon public tranquility, peace and harmony of the society.

According to the NFC Police FIR, on December 15, 2019, police were informed of a protest being organized by students and residents of Jamia Nagar against the now Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). According to the police report, a mob had obstructed traffic on the road and had begun vandalizing public and private property and cars with sticks, stones, and bricks. According to the prosecution, protesters were provoked by the imam’s statement on December 13 of 2019 before becoming violent.

Effectively, Imam was granted bail owing to the following three factors: 

  • The same court had previously held that the several sections (of the IPC, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Arms Act) under which Imam had been booked in this case did not really apply. Amid other observations, the court noted: “…after going through the record, I am of the prima facie view that the evidence in support of the allegations (rioters got instigated by the speech dated 13.12.2019 of applicant/accused and thereafter they indulged in the acts of rioting, mischief, attacking the police party etc), is scanty and sketchy,” as reported by LiveLaw. Thus, as per the court, Imam could only be adjudicated under two sections – 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc) and 124A (Sedition) of the IPC.
  • The Supreme Court, via an order dated 11 May 2022, kept 124A IPC i.e. the sedition law in abeyance. This means that only 153A IPC remained to be considered against Imam in the present case
  • If convicted under 153A IPC, Imam could be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. Imam, however, had already been in custody for more than 31 months, having been arrested on 17 February 2020 in connection with this case. According to 436A CrPC, an under-trial shall be released on bail if he has undergone “detention for a period extending up to one-half of the maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence.” As reported by LiveLaw, the court noted “The applicant/accused is in custody since last more than 31 months, having been arrested on 17.02.2020 in the instant case.” 

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. 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:






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



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

Arunachal Pradesh


124A, 153A, 153B IPC



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