New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the stand of the city police on JNU student Sharjeel Imam's plea seeking interim bail in a 2020 riots case involving allegations of sedition.
A bench of Justices Mukta Gupta and Anish Dayal issued notice on his appeals challenging the trial court order refusing to release him on interim bail and staying the ongoing proceedings in the case.
Imam, who is facing sedition charges for his alleged inflammatory speeches, had urged the trial court to release him for the time being on account of the Supreme Court keeping in abeyance Section 124A (sedition) IPC until the issue of its constitutionality is examined.
The court sought a status report from the police and listed the matter for consideration on August 25.
According to the prosecution, Imam had allegedly made speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at the Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, where he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the Northeast from India.
In his plea before the high court, Imam said the trial court has "failed to recognise" that pursuant to the directions of the top court, the basis for dismissal of his earlier bail plea i.e. the charge of sedition were obviated and therefore relief must be granted to him.
The plea thus urged the high court to release him on interim bail pending the final outcome of the constitutionality challenge to the offence of sedition.
"The Special Court has wrongly interpreted the directions by the Supreme Court and further erred in solely relying upon the order framing charges against the appellant to dismiss the interim bail application" the appeal filed through lawyers Talib Mustafa, Ahmad Ibrahim, and Kartik Venu said.
It further submitted that Imam has been incarcerated for almost 30 months and despite the maximum punishment for the offences, excluding sedition, being only up to a maximum seven years of imprisonment, the trial court failed to consider the relevant considerations for his release.
Earlier this year, the trial court had ordered for framing of charges against Imam under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity), l53B (Imputations prejudicial to national integration), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) of IPC and Section 13 (Punishment for Unlawful Activities) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
While refusing to direct the release of the accused, the trial court had said that interim bail applications can only be considered in case of emergencies, like a medical condition.
Noting the arguments of Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, it had also said while the Supreme Court had directed all pending trials under Section 124 A to be kept in abeyance, it did not issue directions for grant of interim bail to the accused.
"Adjudication with respect to other sections can proceed if the court is of the view that no prejudice would be caused to the accused," it had further opined.
On May 11, the Supreme Court had stayed till further orders on the registration of FIRs, probes, and the coercive measures for the offence of sedition across the country by the Centre and the states until an appropriate forum of the government re-examines the colonial-era penal law.