A Mysuru court on Monday granted bail to Nalini Balakumar, a student who was booked for sedition by police for holding a ‘Free Kashmir’ placard. Speaking to TNM, Baburaj, a member of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties who appeared for Nalini said the bail has been allowed based on eight conditions.
The Second Additional District and Sessions Court in its bail order said Nalini has to submit her passport and report to the police station every 15 days. Other than that she has to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and issue a surety. She has also been barred from taking part in such (protest) activities for which she has been booked.
On January 8, Nalini, an alumna of University of Mysore, was part of a student protest against the assault on students at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where she held the placard.
During the protest, local media had published photographs and videos of the same, based on which the police filed a case of sedition against Nalini and the organiser of the protests.
She was booked under Section 124 A (Sedition) and Section 34 (common intent) of the Indian Penal Code.
Nalini later came forward saying that she was only trying to highlight the internet shutdown imposed in Kashmir through the placard. Nalini was granted interim bail on January 11 after she furnished a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh. As the case came for hearing, the Mysuru Bar Association decided to not represent Nalini .
S Anand Kumar, Mysuru Bar Association President, stated that the members of the association decided to "not represent or provide legal services to the person involved in anti-national activities.”
A group of lawyers defied the Bar Association's decision and sought to represent Nalini in the case. Among them was child rights activist and advocate PP Baburaj. Eventually, a group of lawyers from Bengaluru and other parts of the state represented Nalini in the case.
During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the government argued that Nalini should not be granted bail and that her actions were 'anti-national'. The counsel appearing for the government stated that the protest on January 8 was held in support of students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and also against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The government counsel noted that by opposing the CAA, Nalini held an anti-government view. In addition, the counsel stated that holding up a placard which read 'Free Kashmir' was anti-national since the central government is working to ensure peace prevails in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 over five months ago.
The lawyers appearing for Nalini defended her actions by arguing that she has a right to expression. "We also argued that she was referring to the imposition of section 144 clampdown of internet services, and detentions of mainstream leaders in Kashmir through the poster. She did not propagate separatist ideology or show a poster claiming Kashmir should be free," Jagannath, one of the advocates who represented Nalini told TNM.
The protest was organised by Dalit Student Organization and Mysore University Research Students Association in the University of Mysore. It was held three days after an attack in the JNU campus by men and women armed with stick and rods. In the past month, news reports have stated that the attacks were led by students belonging to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).