Mumbai: In a relief to Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) student Urvashi Chudawala, booked by the Azad Maidan police for sedition for raising slogans in support of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) alumnus Sharjeel Imam, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted Chudawala protection from arrest. Chudawala’s plea for anticipatory bail was rejected by the Sessions court last week.
While granting pre-arrest bail, the single judge bench of Justice SK Shinde said that in the event of arrest, Chudawala should be released on a personal bond of Rs. 20,000. The 22-year-old has also been directed to visit the police station on February 12 and 13, between 11 AM and 2 PM.
Chudawala is not to leave Mumbai and Thane until further orders from the High Court. Chudawala’s mobile handset and dual SIM must be deposited with the investigation officer on Wednesday, Justice Shinde directed.
During the hearing, the court inquired with the police if they had followed guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court with regard to seeking legal opinion before invoking a sedition case. To this, state counsel Deepak Thakare told the court that they had not sought one, but will get it.
The student had stated in the plea filed before the HC by advocate Vijay Hiremath that the slogans raised by the applicant were neither intended to, nor resulted in any violence or incitement to it. The entire case, it said, was based on the video which was already in the custody of the police and hence Chudawala’s custodial interrogation was not required.
Rejecting Chudawala’s plea last week, additional sessions judge Prashant Rajvaidya had said in his order that since the charge of sedition was serious and attracts life imprisonment, custodial interrogation was required to reach the root of the matter.
The order further stated that the intent of the slogans uttered by the applicant in support of Sharjeel Imam, prima facie, attracted the charge of sedition. The Sessions court had not granted interim relief from arrest till Chudawala approached the High Court in appeal.
Chudawala and 50 others had been booked for sedition by the city police for shouting slogans in support of anti-CAA activist and JNU student Sharjeel Imam in a LGBTQIA plus rally in Azad Maidan on February 1.
A video of Chudawala and others raising the slogan ‘Sharjeel tere sapnon ko hum manzil tak pahunchayenge’ (Sharjeel we will see that your dreams are realized) had started circulating on social media, and the Azad Maidan police booked them for sedition.
Imam, a PhD student at JNU, was picked from Bihar recently and booked for sedition. He had allegedly made remarks about how Muslims in could choke the Chicken Neck area in North East to snap the link between Assam and India.