Jamia Nagar violence: HC seeks stand of Sharjeel Imam, others on police challenge to discharge

The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the stand of student activists Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha and others on the city police’s challenge to a trial court order discharging them in a 2019 Jamia Nagar violence case.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma issued notice to Imam and others on the plea by the Delhi Police, and clarified that the observations of the lower court would not affect further investigation in the matter or trial.

The trial court had in its February 4 order discharged 11 people, including Imam and Tanha, while holding that they were made “scapegoats” by police and that dissent has to be encouraged, not stifled.

The FIR was lodged in connection with the violence that erupted after a clash between police and people protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the Jamia Nagar area here in December 2019.

The police, in its petition, has said the trial court’s order is in the teeth of well settled principles of law, suffers from grave infirmities which go to the root of the matter and is perverse in the eyes of the law.

The police plea said the trial court has not only discharged the accused persons but was also swayed by “emotional” and “sentimental feelings” and has cast aspersions on the prosecuting agency and passed “gravely prejudicial” and “adverse” remarks against the prosecuting agency and the investigation

Imam was accused of instigating the riots by delivering a provocative speech at the Jamia Milia University on December 13, 2019. He will continue to remain in jail as he is an accused in the larger conspiracy case of the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.

In its order, the trial court had said there were admittedly scores of protesters at the site and some anti-social elements within the crowd could have created an environment of disruption and havoc.

While discharging the 11 accused, the trial court had ordered framing of charges against one of the accused, Mohammad Ilyas

The Jamia Nagar police station had filed the charge sheet against Imam, Tanha, Safoora Zargar, Mohammad Qasim, Mahmood Anwar, Shahzar Raza Khan, Mohammad Abuzar, Mohammad Shoaib, Umair Ahmad, Bilal Nadeem, Chanda Yadav and Mohammad Ilyas.

The charge sheet was filed under various sections of the IPC, including 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

The charge sheet also included provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

The matter would be heard next on March 16.

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