Delhi Riots 2020: HC to hear on Monday Sharjeel Imam’s bail plea in UAPA case

The Delhi High Court will on Monday hear a bail plea by JNU student and activist Sharjeel Imam in a UAPA case related to the alleged conspiracy behind the 2020 riots here.

Imam, who was arrested in February 2020, was on Saturday discharged along with 10 others in the 2019 Jamia Nagar violence case, with the court saying they were made “scapegoats” by police.

The plea, which was filed in April 2022 against a trial court order refusing to grant bail to Imam in the matter, is listed before a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar.

In this case, Sharjeel Imam and several others, including Umar Khalid, have been booked under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots in the North-East Delhi, which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

The violence had erupted during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

On April 11, 2022, Special Judge Amitabh Rawat denied relief to Imam and rejected his bail plea.

In his appeal, Imam has submitted before the high court that in the absence of any admissible material, the trial court wrongly found him to be a part of the conspiracy to cause riots and there is no prima facie case against him for the commission of any ‘terrorist act’ under the stringent UAPA.

Imam has also said he is a final year Ph.D. student having no prior criminal antecedents and the trial court failed to appreciate that the entire investigation is faulty and that there is no connection between his speeches and the incidents of violence.

The plea alleged that Imam was arrested by the Delhi police as “part of a targeted campaign” against him and he was already in custody in connection with other cases when the violence broke out in Northeast Delhi and had no communication with the other alleged co-conspirators.

On October 18 last year, the high court refused to grant bail to co-accused Umar Khalid in the same case, saying he was in constant touch with other co-accused and allegations against him were prima facie true.

It had also observed that Sharjeel Imam “arguably was at the head of the conspiracy” and there existed a string of commonality running amongst all the co-accused.

On December 9 last year, the Supreme Court, however, clarified the observations made in respect of Imam in the high court verdict rejecting the bail plea of co-accused Umar Khalid would not prejudice his bail plea pending there.

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