Sharjeel Imam
Sharjeel Imam
(PTI Photo)(PTI2_20_2020_000153B)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by JNU student Sharjeel Imam challenging a trial court order that granted more time to the investigation agencies to file charge sheet in a UAPA case against him.

Imam, in his plea, had claimed that the investigation agency violated the legal procedure and took away his right to seek default bail. Sharjeel Imam is being probed for his alleged inflammatory speeches during anti-CAA protests.

A single-judge bench of Justice V Kameshwar Rao dismissed the petition granting no relief to Sharjeel Imam in the matter.

"I find that the court while granting the extension of investigation has satisfied itself with the application/ report of the additional public prosecutor about the reasons/ grounds on which the extension of time for doing investigation was sought. This court has already held there are good/ justifiable grounds for extending the investigation," the bench said in its order.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, representing Sharjeel Imam, had argued that the trial court order ought to be set aside as the accused/applicant was not given notice of the application under Section 43D of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

She pointed out that the accused has not even been produced before the court for subsequent remands, every fifteen days as per the mandate of Section 167 (2) (b) Code of Criminal procedure (CrPC).

Rebecca had said that the application moved by the police is devoid of the genuine "compelling reasons" that are required to be disclosed for extension of time beyond 90 days.

She submitted that it is unclear why the supposed "careful" analysis took 88 days or what additional facts have been discovered subsequent to the eight days of police custody to merit invocation of the UAPA on the 88th day of the custody.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi, representing Delhi Police, submitted that the probe in the matter has been badly hampered due to the pandemic.

"The investigation doesn't happen through video conferencing. The seizures, searches, movement, almost every part of the probe has been hit badly due to the pandemic," Lekhi said adding that no enactment has been violated nor has any rights been infringed upon.

Lekhi had also submitted that the substantial grievance of the petitioner is that no notice was given to the petitioner. He said that the accused is presently lodged in Assam Jail and due to lockdown the production of the accused was not feasible.

Delhi Police, in its reply, had opposed Imam's plea stating that the accused, by way of his speech, was addressing a particular religious section of the society and creating disaffection towards the government by creating the unfounded fears in their minds regarding Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

As per the rules under the CrPC, a charge sheet needs to be filed within 60/90 days as per the offence, however, for UAPA cases, agencies have 180 days to file the charge sheet.

Imam was arrested by the Delhi Police on January 28 from Bihar for allegedly delivering a seditious speech and abetting riots in Jamia Millia Islamia area in December last year.

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