Delhi riots: HC to hear bail pleas of Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid together

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday agreed to hear on May 6, the bail applications of JNU scholars-activists Sharjeel Imam and Umar Khalid, who were allegedly linked to a case of ‘larger conspiracy’ behind the 2020 Delhi riots.

Hearing the pleas, a division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar noted that a matter challenging the constitutional validity of the offence of Sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code is pending for hearing before the Supreme Court on May 5.

Considering this, the bench said it would be appropriate to wait for the order in the matter before hearing the present appeals.

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On April 27, the apex court had allowed the Central government to file its response on petitions demanding striking down the sedition law and posted the matter for May 5.

During the hearing, Chief Justice N.V. Ramana had said the situation on the ground is grave, and if one party does not like what the other is saying, Section 124A is used.

Sharjeel Imam has approached the Delhi High Court challenging the April 11 trial court order which refused him bail in the larger conspiracy case.

During the course of the hearing, the bench told Sharjeel’s counsel Tanveer Ahmed Mir that the court is of the view that since Sharjeel is the purported co-conspirator as per the FIR, both the appeals will be heard together.

“There is absolutely no material has been adduced by the prosecution, attributed to the Appellant from which it could even remotely be suggested that the Appellant at any point in time had any intention to cause/incite violence. Rather from the material relied upon by the prosecution itself, which the Ld. Special Court has failed to take into consideration, it is manifestly clear that the Appellant to the contrary had on multiple occasions very categorically and emphatically called the protestors to not resort to violence at any cost,” said his appeal.

According to police, Imam made alleged inflammatory speeches in Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, on December 13, 2019, and Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, on January 16, 2020.

He has been in judicial custody since January 28, 2020, and is currently lodged in Tihar jail in Delhi.

Umar Khalid had also knocked the doors of the high court following a similar situation of bail denial in the trial court.

On Thursday, his appeal was adjourned for Friday, after the court’s observation that his fresh documents explaining his alleged ‘offensive speech’ have not come on record.

His alleged offensive speeches delivered at Amaravati during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens were the basis of allegations against him in the riots case.

During the course of the hearing on Thursday, the petitioner submitted the materials and case laws detailing the meaning of the words ‘krantikari’ and ‘inquilab’ which was used by him in the alleged speeches.

The riots broke out in northeast Delhi in February 2020 after clashes between the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and pro-CAA protesters took a violent turn.

The mayhem, which coincided with the then US President Donald Trump’s maiden trip to India, saw more than 50 people lose their lives and over 700 injured.

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