Sharjeel Imam’s speech did not incite violence: HC

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The Allahabad high court while granting bail to activist Sharjeel Imam in a sedition case, observed that his speech did not incite violence, nor did he give a call to bear arms, according to the court order that was made public on Monday.

The court granted bail to Imam on November 27 in the sedition case, which was registered against him for delivering an alleged anti-national speech at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on January 16, 2020. A first information report (FIR) was registered against him at the Civil Lines police station, Aligarh, on January 25, 2020.

A bench of justice Saumitra Dayal Singh observed, “Without referring to the exact allegation made against the applicant, it may be noted that on an undisputed basis neither the applicant called any one to bear arms nor any violence was incited as a result of the speech delivered by the applicant.”

“The exact imputations made and the effect prompted by the applicant by words uttered or gestures made etc. may remain to be examined at the trial which is yet to commence,” the bench added in its order, a copy of which HT has seen.

The court granted bail to Imam in the case registered under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Earlier, the counsel for the applicant had contended that ingredients of offence are not made out because the applicant had not “exhorted the listeners to take up arms or to engage in any violent act” that may have threatened the integrity and unity of the country or to “commit any act of hatred against any community”.

Opposing the bail application, additional advocate general Manish Goyal submitted that the content of the FIR clearly brings out all ingredients of offences under sections 124A, 153A and other sections of IPC registered against him.

The allegation against Imam was that he indulged in spreading hatred towards the Government of India and the Indian Armed Forces, creating enmity and hatred between the two communities and endangering the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the nation.

The court, while allowing the bail application, observed, “In view of the above, without expressing any opinion on the final merits of the case, let the applicant involved in the aforesaid crime be released on bail.”

Though the bail has been granted in one of the cases registered by the Uttar Pradesh police against Imam, he would have to remain in jail as he is also an accused in an Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case in connection with Northeast Delhi riots of 2020.

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