Delhi Court rejects Sharjeel Imam’s Bail plea

A court here on Saturday dismissed the plea of student activist Sharjeel Imam seeking bail on the grounds that he had been in custody for the last four years, which was more than half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offence.

The court directed to continue Imam’s custody, saying the present case was “different” from other cases because of the nature of allegations against Imam and his “disruptive activities which finally resulted in the riots”.

Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Bajpai was hearing Imam’s plea seeking bail under 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), saying he was in custody since January 28, 2020, while the maximum sentence for the offence under section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is seven years, if convicted.

According to Section 436-A CrPC, a person can be released from custody if he has spent more than half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offence.

“Keeping in view the alleged acts of the applicant (Imam), the court is of the view that the facts in the case in hand are not normal and different than the facts which in any other case could be,” the court said.

“Considering the allegations against the applicant and his disruptive activities, the court deems it appropriate not to consider the relief as prayed for and to continue his custody,” it added.

The court said that although Imam did not ask anybody to pick the weapons and kill the people, his speeches and activities mobilised the public which disrupted the city and might have been the main reason for the outbreak of riots.

“Further, through inflammatory speeches and social media, the applicant skillfully manipulated the real facts and incited the public to create havoc in the city. Further, the words used by the applicant in his different speeches were so powerful that they captured the minds of the people of a particular community and incited them to take part in disruptive activities which finally resulted in the riots,” it said.

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In 2022, the trial court had framed charges against Imam under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity), 153B (imputations prejudicial to national integration), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) of IPC and Section 13 (punishment for Unlawful Activities) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

According to the prosecution, Imam had made speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at the Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, where he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the North East from the country.

Noting the facts of the case, the court observed, “Although the court cannot take into consideration IPC Section 124A but if the acts and actions of the applicant are considered, they can be termed as seditious in a normal dictionary meaning.” 

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