Delhi Court rejects Sharjeel Imam’s bail plea in sedition, UAPA case

He has been in jail since January 28, 2020, and has multiple cases being heard in different courts.

A Delhi court on Saturday, February 17, rejected the statutory bail application of student activist Sharjeel Imam, in a case of sedition and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) related to alleged inflammatory speeches in Delhi’s Jamia area and Aligarh Muslim University.

He was charged with sedition and booked under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in January 2020, along with other charges, for allegedly inciting communal violence through speeches made in December 2019 and January 2020 at Aligarh Muslim University and during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Bajpai of Karkardooma Court pronounced the order.

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The Delhi High Court had on January 30 directed the trial court to decide and pronounce judgment by February 17 on an application filed by Imam seeking statutory bail.

Imam, who was booked under FIR 22 of 2020 by Delhi Police’s Special Branch, was initially registered for the offence of sedition. Later, Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was invoked.

He has been in custody since January 28, 2020, and his argument is centered around the claim that he has completed half of the maximum seven-year punishment prescribed under Section 13 of the UAPA.

The Division Bench, consisting of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Manoj Jain, disposed of Imam’s plea for regular bail, saying that the application for statutory bail was already under consideration before the trial court.

The court issued a clear order, stating, “We direct the trial court to decide and pronounce judgment in the said application within ten days from the next date of hearing.”

Furthermore, the court affirmed Imam’s right to file a fresh appeal if bail is denied, based on the grounds mentioned in his initial appeal or any additional grounds.

Delhi Police had earlier opposed Imam’s claim that he has completed half of the maximum seven-year punishment prescribed under Section 13 of the UAPA, saying that there is not just one offence, but multiple crimes.

According to his application, he has spent three years and six months in judicial custody and thus should be entitled to statutory bail under Section 436A of the Criminal Procedure Code. The application states that Imam is willing to provide reliable surety and adhere to any conditions upon his release.

The charges against Imam include sedition (Section 124A), promoting enmity between different religious groups (Section 153A), making assertions prejudicial to national integration (Section 153B), making statements conducive to public mischief (Section 505) under the Indian Penal Code, as well as punishment for unlawful activities (Section 13) under the UAPA.

(With excerpts from IANS)

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