HC reserves order on Kanhaiya's bail, Delhi Police faces tough questions

The prosecution maintained that Kanhaiya was "not cooperating" with the investigation.
HC reserves order on Kanhaiya's bail, Delhi Police faces tough questions
HC reserves order on Kanhaiya's bail, Delhi Police faces tough questions
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Delhi Police on Monday faced tough questions for slapping sedition charge on JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar by the Delhi High Court which asked it to show evidence against him of his "active role" in raising anti- India slogans and why the case was not lodged on February 9 itself.

Though the prosecution maintained that Kanhaiya was "not cooperating" with the investigation and even came out with "contradictory" statements in joint interrogation by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Delhi Police, Justice Pratibha Rani wanted answers from the investigators to buttress their claims of having evidence on allegations which included that his speech was "more than political." 

"The presence at the spot is different from participation in the anti-national slogans," Justice Rani said and wanted to know "Whether he played any active role in raising anti-India slogans." 

"Whether the mobile recording, done at your (police) instance, showed that Kanhaiya had raised any such slogans," the bench asked the police during the hearing of his bail plea which was witnessed by his father, uncle and an elder brother and the cops assuring that the arrested students leader would "not be victimised" if it was found that he has no role.

The family members were present for the second day on Monday after the February 24 hearing. They were brought inside the courtroom under police escort as the Supreme Court has made it clear that it is the responsibility of the Delhi Police to ensure the safety and security of the lawyers and those closely associated with the accused.

During the hearing in which there was a restricted entry only for lawyers of the parties and family members of the accused, Justice Rani, who reserved the verdict on Kanhaiya's bail plea for March 2, sought clarification from investigators as to how the accused was leading the group shouting slogans when other political group of the students were also present.

"As per you (Delhi police) there were two (ABVP and AISF) groups. Explain how petitioner (Kanhaiya) was leading the group and shouted anti-India slogans," the judge asked and added "do the police have video evidence that Kanhaiya was raising anti-national slogans?" 

Delhi Police, represented through Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, told the bench that they do not have any video in this regard but there was evidence that the JNUSU President was raising slogans and "the speech (by him) was more than political." 

"If he has no role as claimed by him we assure that he is not victimised," he said. 

The ASG also said Kanhaiya denied his role even during his joint interrogation by the IB and Delhi Police.

"During the joint interrogation carried by the IB and the Delhi Police it has been found that he has raised anti-India slogans. He is not cooperating in the investigations and giving contradictory statements. He is also denying his role," Mehta said.

He said "there were statements of witnesses including security incharge of campus, a student who is not associated with any of the groups and others, and they have identified Kanhaiya and others raising anti-India slogans along with Afzal Guru's poster in their hand.

He submitted the joint interrogation by the IB and Delhi police establishes Kanhaiya's presence during the incident.

At this moment, the court asked several questions to the ASG as the submissions were not backed by video evidence.

The bench also asked why police officials who were present in plain clothes there did not take any action when the ASG himself had argued that such statements by the accused did not "sound good in taste".

"When your (Delhi) men were present on the spot there in the campus in civil dress why didn't they take cognizance when anti-India slogans were raised? Why they did not video record it? Why you waited for a TV news channel video?" it asked.

The bench said if there was an independent video of the incident, why the same was not sent for forensic test.

It put these questions to police after senior advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that the JNUSU President had reached at the spot after he was informed that there was some clash among students and he never raised any slogans against the nation.

Sibal contended that it was "some outsider with covered face who raised anti-India slogans and Kanhaiya was seen in the CCTV footage asking them for their identity card".

"If Kanhaiya was found raising such slogans, why did the police present on the spot did not register any FIR on that day itself? Why it waited for TV recording," Sibal argued.

Kanhaiya also distanced himself from Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, also accused in the sedition case, and are presently undergoing custodial interrogation.

He claimed that the application for organising the event in question was filed by Umar and Anirban.

Kanhaiya's counsel also said that the procession was led by Umar.

"Nowhere Kanhaiya was seen shouting any slogan. The court can look into the video. There were some people with covered faces, who were shouting slogans. They have not been arrested.

Who were they, have they not yet been identified by the police," Sibal contended.

The counsel also referred to Kanhaiya's speech made on February 11, saying he is committed to the Constitution.

However, Mehta said, "the February 11 speech is a defence created, based on the uproar he witnessed on the television after the February 9 incident at JNU campus here. He gave that speech to show he is a patriot." 

The ASG opposed Sibal's defence and said if "he (Kanhaiya) is allowed on bail in this kind of offence, the future generation of this country will be infected".

"It is a very delicate situation. There appears to be a movement and this is beginning of the movement. We have to see who' financed it," ASG submitted, adding that if Kanhaiya is released, it can have pan India impact.

"Releasing Kanhaiya can be point for anti-India movement," ASG said, adding that "similar slogans were raised in Jadavpur university after JNU. If he is given bail then such incidents will get a boost".

The AAP government, however, took different stand in which it urged the court to grant him bail.

"There is no clear CCTV footage. He is innocent. He is a man who stands by the Constitution. He is a student leader and so he was present there during the event," the AAP government counsel said.

At the fag end of the hearing, the counsel representing Umar and Anirban told the bench that there was threat to them as the case has been transferred to Delhi police's special cell.

The bench, however, said, "as of now, senior officials of police, who has been asked to ensure security of accused, have succeeded in doing so. The same is expected from the officers of the special cell." 

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