SC judge recuses himself from hearing Umar Khalid’s plea seeking bail in UAPA case

Supreme Court judge Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra on Wednesday recused himself from hearing a plea filed by former JNU student Umar Khalid seeking bail in a UAPA case related to alleged conspiracy behind the riots here in February 2020.

Khalid’s petition challenging the October 18 last year order of the Delhi High Court, which had rejected his bail plea in the matter, came up for hearing before a bench of Justices A S Bopanna and Prashant Kumar Mishra.

“This will come before some other bench. There is some difficulty for my brother (Justice Mishra) to take up this matter,” Justice Bopanna said at the outset, without assigning any reason for Justice Mishra’s recusal.

Advocate Rajat Nair, appearing for the Delhi Police, told the bench that they have filed a counter affidavit but there is an objection shown by the apex court registry on it.

“There are certain portion of statements which we have extracted, that portion is in vernacular,” he said, adding, “That statement itself is in vernacular.”

Nair said he also wants to file relevant portion of the charge sheet filed in the case.

The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on August 17, said the counter affidavit be taken on record.

“The matter can’t be taken up in this combination of the bench. Hence, list on August 17,” the bench said.

On July 12, the Delhi Police had sought time to respond to Khalid’s petition.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Khalid, had then said, “In a bail matter, what counter is to be filed. The man is inside for two years and 10 months.”

On May 18, the apex court had sought response of the Delhi Police on Khalid’s plea challenging the high court order refusing him bail in the case.

The high court in October last year had rejected his bail plea, saying he was in constant touch with other co-accused and allegations against him are prima facie true.

The high court had also said the actions of the accused prima facie qualified as “terrorist act” under the anti-terror law UAPA.

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Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, and several others 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, which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

The violence had erupted during the protests against CAA and NRC.

Khalid, arrested by the Delhi Police in September 2020, had sought bail on grounds that he neither had any criminal role in the violence nor any “conspiratorial connect” with any other accused in the case.

Before the high court, the Delhi Police had opposed the bail plea by Khalid, saying the speech delivered by him was “very calculated” and brought up issues like Babri Masjid, triple talaq, Kashmir, the alleged suppression of Muslims and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

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