The Delhi High Court Friday listed for hearing on May 26 the bail plea by former JNU student Sharjeel Imam in a case concerning certain alleged inflammatory speeches made by him during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) and granted him two weeks to place on record the relevant documents.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar asked the counsel appearing for Imam to place before it the documents concerning another FIR, registered in Uttar Pradesh, arising from a speech which was delivered in Aligarh Muslim University and forms the basis of the allegations in the present case as well.
The court was informed that Imam’s challenge to the framing of sedition charge against him in the case is also listed for hearing on May 26.
Imam’s lawyer said that he has been in custody since January 2020 and the Allahabad High Court granted bail to him in Aligarh speech FIR while opining that there was no call for violence.
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Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad opposed the plea and said that once the trial found the existence of a prima facie case against Imam after framing of charges, he could not have been released on bail in view of the statutory bar under UAPA.
He also informed that UAPA was not invoked in the case in which bail was granted by the Allahabad High Court.
As per the prosecution, Imam allegedly made speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, where he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the Northeast from India.
The prosecution has claimed before the trial court that his speeches incited hatred, contempt, and disaffection towards the Central Government and instigated the people which led to the violence in December 2019.
His bail plea in the case was dismissed by the trial court on January 24.
While seeking bail, Imam’s counsel had earlier told the high court that he is in custody for the last 25 months and there is no likelihood of the trial getting over in the near future as there are more than 170 witnesses to be examined and the trial has not even started yet.
The bail plea has said that the instant FIR was registered against Imam on January 25, 2020, simultaneously with four other FIRs across multiple states for the same speeches attributed to him.
The instant FIR was originally registered for the offences punishable under sections 124A (punishment for sedition, 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505(2) (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the IPC and later section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was added.
Subsequently, Imam was arrested in this case from Bihar on January 28, 2020, and was remanded to police custody for 8 days and has been in continuous judicial custody since then.
He is also one of the accused in the 2020 Delhi riots conspiracy case.