‘Inflammatory speeches’: Court frames sedition charges against Sharjeel Imam
The court, which framed the sedition charges under the stringent UAPA, also rejected a bail plea moved by Imam
A Delhi court on Monday framed sedition and charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA ) against JNU student Sharjeel Imam for allegedly making inflammatory speeches at Aligarh Muslim University and Delhi’s Jamia area while addressing protesters against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The court also rejected a bail plea moved by Imam.
Imam made the alleged provocative speeches in Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019; and at Aligarh Muslim University on January 16, 2020. An FIR was registered against Imam on January 25, 2020 and he has been in judicial custody since January 28 last year.
Additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat framed charges against Imam under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity on grounds of religion), 153B (assertions prejudicial to national integration), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), of Indian Penal Code and section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of UAPA. In his speech, Imam allegedly threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the Northeast from India.
A detailed copy of the order is yet to be uploaded on the district court website.
Imam’s plea seeking bail was also argued by his lawyer while advancing the arguments on charge. The judge said, “Vide separate order, the application filed by Sharjeel Imam for grant of regular bail is dismissed.”
The Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet against Imam in July 2020, in which it claimed that Imam gave speeches inciting hatred, contempt, and disaffection towards the Central government and instigated the people which led to the violence near Jamia Millia Islamia in December 2019.
Imam’s counsel Tanveer Ahmed Mir in October 2021 contended that his client’s prosecution for alleged inflammatory speeches is the “whip of a monarch rather than a government established by law”. He said that Imam’s criticism of the government cannot be the cause of sedition.
Mir also said that his client is neither a terrorist, nor associated with some terrorist outfit. He added that Imam did not have criminal antecedents or political agenda. The lawyer said that there were “many prosecutions” against Imam just because he had criticised the government’s policies.
The police have also accused Imam of being the “mastermind” of the February 2020 northeast Delhi riots, which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
Earlier in December, the court granted bail to Imam in a case of alleged violence at Jamia Millia Islamia in December 2019 during the anti-CAA protests. The FIR under which he is an accused involves offences such as rioting, conspiracy, attempt to commit culpable homicide, voluntarily obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions, and assault.