Delhi HC issues notice to police over Sharjeel Imam’s bail plea in sedition case

Sharjeel Imam’s counsel argued that he has completed half of the maximum seven-year punishment prescribed under Section 13 of the UAPA.
 Sharjeel Imam
Sharjeel Imam
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The Delhi High Court on Monday, March 11 issued a notice to Delhi Police on a plea filed by Sharjeel Imam, a student activist who has been accused of alleged inflammatory speeches during the 2020 protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). On February 17, Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Bajpai of the Karkardooma Court had denied statutory bail to Imam. 

On Monday, a division bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Manoj Jain sought the Delhi Police's reply in the matter within two weeks. The same bench had earlier affirmed Imam's right to file a fresh appeal if bail is denied by the trial court, based on the grounds mentioned in his initial appeal or any additional grounds.

Sharjeel Imam was initially booked for sedition by the Delhi Police's Special Branch in 2020. Later, Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was also invoked in his case. Sharjeel Imam has been in custody since January 28, 2020. His counsel argued that Imam has completed half of the maximum seven-year punishment prescribed under Section 13 of the UAPA. 

Delhi Police had earlier opposed Imam's bail petition stating that he was involved in multiple crimes and was not imprisoned for just one offence. According to his application, Imam has spent three years and six months in judicial custody and should be entitled to statutory bail under Section 436A of the Criminal Procedure Code. The application stated that Imam was willing to provide reliable surety and adhere to any condition upon release.

The charges against Imam include sedition (Section 124A), promoting enmity between different religious groups (Section 153A), making assertions prejudicial to national integration (Section 153B), and making statements conducive to public mischief (Section 505) under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as punishment for unlawful activities (Section 13) under the UAPA.

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