Saket Court, Delhi: In an application filed seeking bail for Sharjeel Imam, (‘bail-applicant’) who is a JNU student alleged for making inflammatory speeches at Jamia during Anti CAA-NRC protests in 2019, Anuj Agrawal J., granted bail in a sedition case being covered u/s 436-A Criminal Procedure Code.

In an earlier bail application of the accused seeking regular bail, the Court observed

As far as allegations against applicant/accused for offences under section 143/147/148/149/186/353/332/333/307/308/427/435/323/341/120-B/34 IPC & 3/4 Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act & under section 25/27 Arms Act with aid of section 109 IPC are concerned, after going through the record, I am of the prima facie view that the evidence in support of the allegations (rioters got instigated by the speech dated 13.12.2019 of applicant/accused and thereafter they indulged in the acts of rioting, mischief, attacking the police party etc.), is scanty and sketchy.

Further, there is no evidence corroborating the version of prosecution that alleged rioters/co-accused were a part of the audience addressed by applicant/accused Sharjeel Imam on 13.12.2019.

The theory as propounded by investigating agency leaves gaping holes which leaves an incomplete picture unless the gaps are filled by resorting to surmises and conjectures or by essentially replying upon the disclosure statement of applicant/accused Sharjeel Iman and co-accused.

The Court noted that the said observations have not been set-aside by any Superior Court till date and as far as remaining offences u/s 124-A and 153-A Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) are concerned, the prosecution for offence u/s 124-A IPC in all pending cases has already been directed to be kept in abeyance by Supreme Court in S.G. Vombatkare v. Union of India, W.P. (C) No. 682/2021 vide order dated 11-05-2022.

The Court further noted that as far as offence u/s 153-A IPC is concerned, it is not disputed that the alleged act of applicant/accused is punishable with maximum imprisonment up to three years as provided u/s 153-A (1) IPC and the applicant/accused has been in custody for more than 31 months, having been arrested on 17-02-2020 in the instant case.

The Court concluded that considering the submissions made at Bar, in view of the directions of Supreme Court in S.G. Vombatkare (supra) and keeping in view the earlier order dated 22.10.2021 of this Court, the case of applicant/accused is covered u/s 436-A CrPC and therefore instant application deserves to be allowed.

Thus, the Court admitted Sharjeel Imam to bail on furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs. 30,000/- with one surety of like amount subject to the condition that he shall always remain available on a working mobile number and shall intimate the concerned IO about change of address, if any.

[Sharjeel Imam v. State, 2022 SCC OnLine Dis Crt (Del) 43, decided on 30-09-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Sh. Amit Prasad, Ld. Special PP, for the State through VC;

Sh. Talib Mustafa, Sh. Ahmad Ibrahim and Sh. Kartik Venu, Ld. Counsels, for the Applicant/Accused;

IO/Inspector Mantoo Singh in person.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

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