More than a year after Delhi Police registered two cases of sedition against JNU students and a former Delhi University professor, they are yet to file a charge sheet. Nationwide protests had erupted against the police last year for using the archaic law in their first information report (FIR). The students alleged that they had been falsely implicated and the charges were based on doctored videos.
Interestingly, no sedition case has been registered across Delhi after the two FIRs, which were registered in February 2016. The last time, police in Delhi registered a sedition case was in 2013. According to National Crime Records Bureau data, while 30 sedition cases were registered across the country in 2015, not a single such case was reported in Delhi. In 2014 too, Delhi Police did not register a sedition case, while the number of cases across India was 47.
JNU students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirbhan Bhattacharya, among others, and former DU professor SAR Geelani were booked under sedition charges. Exactly a year ago, on the evening of February 9, 2016 the three JNU students were accused of raising anti-India slogans in the university campus at an event to mark the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. A case was registered at the Vasant Vihar police station. The second sedition case was filed at the Parliament Street police station against SAR Geelani for organising an event inside the Press Club where similar anti- India slogans were raised.
Interestingly, both cases were registered suo moto by the police. The police officers who are the complainants in both cases mentioned that they watched the news telecast of both the events on a news channel after which they learnt about the sloganeering. The footage, involving the JNU students recorded by the news channel purportedly showed JNU students shouting anti-India slogans. The footage has been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory to test its authenticity.
According to FIR in Geelani’s case, the complainant police officer had seen the news report about Geelani raising anti-national slogans. Delhi Police spokesperson Dependra Pathak said, “The Delhi Police is looking into all angles of the case. Each and every aspect is being legally scrutinised. A few cases do take time to reach a conclusion. It’s been looked into professionally.”
The 2012 and 2013 sedition cases were filed on the orders of a court. The first case in 2012 was against a UK resident, Abu Barra who had allegedly said he had no faith in the constitution and the laws binding him. Barra, however, did not join the probe. Barra had allegedly made the statement when he was stopped from carrying out a march to Parliament. Another case, registered in 2013 was against Mumbai politician and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray accused of delivering a hate speech at a rally in Mumbai. In both cases, the police filed a closure report saying there was no evidence against accused persons.