New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Wednesday granted an interim conditional bail for six months in a sedition case by the Delhi High Court.
Disposing of the bail petition of a single judge bench of Justice Pratibha Rani stated, “The thoughts reflected in the slogans raised by some of the JNU students, who organised and participated in that programme, cannot be claimed to be protected as fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. I consider this as a kind of infection from which such students are suffering which needs to be controlled/cured before it becomes an epidemic.
“Whenever some infection is spread in a limb, effort is made to cure the same by giving antibiotics orally and if that does not work, by following second line of treatment. Sometimes it may require surgical intervention also. However, if the infection results in infecting the limb to the extent that it becomes gangrene, amputation is the only treatment.”
Justice Pratibha Rani, however, observed: “As president of the JNU students’ union, the petitioner was expected to be responsible and accountable for any anti-national event organised on the campus. Freedom of speech guaranteed to the citizens of this country has enough room for every citizen to follow his own ideology or political affiliation within the framework of our Constitution. While dealing with the bail application of the petitioner, it has to be kept in mind by all concerned that they are enjoying this freedom only because our borders are guarded by our armed and paramilitary forces. Our forces are protecting our frontiers in the most difficult terrain in the world i.e. Siachen Glacier or Rann of Kutch.”
Maintain that it is a case of raising anti-national slogans, which do have the effect of threatening national integrity, the court said, “Suffice it to note that such persons enjoy the freedom to raise such slogans in the comfort of University Campus but without realising that they are in this safe environment because our forces are there at the battle field situated at the highest altitude of the world, where even the oxygen is so scarce that those who are shouting anti-national slogans holding posters of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt close to their chest honouring their martyrdom, may not be even able to withstand those conditions for an hour even.”
“The kind of slogans raised may have demoralising effect on the family of those martyrs who returned home in coffin draped in Tricolour,” the court observed.
Stating that the petitioner claims his right regarding freedom of speech and expression guaranteed in Part-III under Article 19(1)(a), the court added, “He has also to be reminded that under Part-IV under Article 51A of Constitution of India fundamental duties of every citizen have been specified along with the fact that rights and duties are two sides of the same coin.”
“The petitioner may have any political affiliation or ideology. He has every right to pursue that, but it can be only within the framework of our Constitution. India is a living example of unity in diversity. Freedom of expression enjoyed by every citizen can be subjected to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) of our Constitution. The feelings or the protest reflected in the slogans needs introspection by the student community whose photographs are available on record holding posters carrying photographs of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt,” said Justice Pratibha Rani.
Observing that the JNU faculty also has to play its role in guiding them to the right path so that they can contribute to the growth of the nation and to achieve the object and vision for which the university was established, the judge said, “The reason behind anti-national views in the mind of students who raised slogans on the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was convicted for attack on our Parliament, which led to this situation have not only to be found by them but remedial steps are also required to be taken in this regard by those managing the affairs of the JNU so that there is no recurrence of such incident.”
The judge noticed that during the period spent by the petitioner in judicial custody, he might have introspected about the events that had taken place, and to enable him to remain in the main stream, at present I am inclined to provide conservative method of treatment. “Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances, I am inclined to release the petitioner on interim bail for a period of six months.”
The Court, however, asked him not to participate actively or passively in any activity which may be termed as anti-national.
It also enjoined on him, as president of JNU students union, that he will make all efforts within his power to control anti-national activities in the University campus.
Further, it said that the accused has to furnish an undertaking that he will not violate any of the conditions mentioned in the order.
Kanhaiya, who is presently lodged in Tihar jail under judicial custody, was arrested on February 12th in connection with the sedition case.
Kanhaiya and others, including two arrested JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, are accused of raising anti-India slogans during an event organised inside the JNU campus on February 9.
Kanhaiya had sought bail claiming that he had not raised any anti-India slogans but the Delhi Police had maintained before the high court that they have evidence to show that the accused had raised anti-national slogans. The two other students who were arrested are in 14 days judicial custody.
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