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Delhi HC to hear student leader Sharjeel Imam's bail plea on May 26


NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court is scheduled to hear the bail plea of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Sharjeel Imam, on May 26, seeking interim bail for alleged inflammatory speeches given by him at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and in the Jamia area during the anti-CAA agitation in 2019 and 2020.

The hearing on the matter on Tuesday got adjourned as the concerned bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar, didn't assemble.

Days after the Supreme Court of India put the trial on sedition cases on hold, Sharjeel Imam approached the Delhi High Court stating that "since the apex court has put sedition (section 124-A) in abeyance, his case has improved for grant of bail'.

He filed the bail plea in connection with FIR-22 of the year 2020 which relates to the inflammatory speeches given by him in the Jamia area and at AMU.

The plea stated, "in view of the Supreme Court's directions, the hindrance raised by the Special Court in the impugned order stands obviated, and observations surrounding the offence under IPC section 124-A cannot be taken into consideration in the proceedings against the Appellant pending the final outcome of the Constitutional challenges to the section."

Dehors the issue of Section 124-A IPC, the case against the appellant (Sharjeel Imam) stands significantly diluted and improves his case for securing bail.

"The Appellant has been incarcerated for nearly 28 months (beginning on 28 January 2020) whereas the maximum punishment for the offences (not including 124-A IPC) is punishable for a maximum of 7 years of imprisonment," the plea read.

"The Appellant meets the proverbial 'triple test' for bail. Moreover, it is not (nor has ever been at any stage) the case of the prosecution that the Applicant is a flight risk, at risk of influencing any witnesses or tampering with any evidence," it added.

Earlier, the Delhi Police in its affidavit stated that the charges against Sharjeel Imam are grave in nature. "The facts of the instant case on which the charges are framed against the accused indeed suggest that the offence, as charged against the accused, is grave in nature and there is no frivolity in the case of the prosecution, " said the police.

Earlier, a Counsel that appeared for Delhi Police also said that the accused is also charged with Section 124A, in which the accused shall be punished with imprisonment for life.

A Special Trial Court order, dated 24 January 2022, had ordered to frame charges against the Appellant under all the invoked penal provisions. On the same day, Imam's application seeking grant of regular bail under the CrPC Section 439, was dismissed by the Special Court, which held that it could exercise power only under the Section 437 of CrPC, placing reliance upon its order framing charges against him.

The trial court judge said, "the accused is directed to be charged for the offences under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity on grounds of religion), 153B (assertions prejudicial to national integration), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), of Indian Penal Code and section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Vide separate order, the application filed by Sharjeel Imam for grant of regular bail is dismissed".

Imam was arrested in 2020 by the Delhi Police from Bihar's Jahanabad. The Delhi Police filed a charge sheet against him in the present case, where it was alleged that he gave speeches inciting hatred, contempt, and disaffection towards the Central government.

The Delhi Police in the charge sheet against Sharjeel had mentioned, "he is accused of delivering seditious speeches and inciting a particular section of the community to indulge in unlawful activities, detrimental to sovereignty and integrity of the nation".