BY : APARNA RAJESH
The right to dissent a government’s action has been severely being questioned for the past few months since the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act by Chandrasekhar Aazad. Several protests have been taking place and there is still a need for clarity in the answers that the government gives to the public. This lack of clarity is the major reason behind the eruption of these strikes and not giving heed to such protests can endanger the essence on the basis of which the nation is standing. Among the ones who have expressed dissent, Chandrasekhar Azad’s protest was also significant. Chandrasekhar Azad, the founder and the leader of the Bhim Army is an Ambedkarite and a lawyer.
Voicing his dissent against the CAA and asking to repeatal the Act, Chandrasekhar Azad led a protest, along with the followers of the Bhim Army led a protest march. The march was from Jama Masjid to JantarMantar. The protests incited lathi charge and the use of water cannons from the part of the police and it turned violent. Azad was arrested under the charges of inciting people towards violence act and was put in judicial custody on December 21st, 2019. Earlier, his lawyer had moved the court giving demanding access to medical care considering his medical condition.
Chandrasekhar Azad was released from jail with the Delhi High Court issuing bail on January 15th, 2020. The bail was approved when a bail bond amount of Rs. 25000 was furnished. The case was considered by the Additional Sessions Court and the Honourable Judge Kamini Lau was the one who granted him bail. However, the court set some conditions on Azad. One, that he is restrained from entering New Delhi for four weeks and two, he should not hold any dharnas until the election in Delhi is over. He also cannot take part in the protests in Shaheen Bagh. Thus, these conditions were set and he was granted bail.
After the release, the Bhim Army leader declared that he would continue his protests until the discriminatory act of CAA is repealed. He said that dissent will be expressed through constitutional means. He had also said that he would be approaching the court to allow him to be a part of the ShaheenBagh protest and that he wanted to serve the society which is his family.
Therefore, Chandrasekhar Azad has approached the Tis Hazari Sessions Court seeking modifications on the conditions that were imposed over his bail. While granting bail, the court had provided him with the liberty to seek modifications by furnishing a Delhi address. The matter will be considered on January 21st.
QUESTION OF LAW:
The conditions of the bail demanded Azad be in his hometown Saharanpur, which is in Uttar Pradesh as his address was written as Saharanpur. This was done by the court taking into account the Delhi Assembly Elections. The application for modification is given from Azad’s address in Delhi. The plea was filed through the lawyers OP Bharti and MehmoodPracha. It suggested that Chandrasekhar Azad is not a criminal and hence, the imposition of such conditions were undemocratic and wrong. If a social activistt like him is being denied from going to Delhi, then it will be clearly against the fundamental rights. Earlier, the court headed by the judge Kamini Lau had granted him bail based on the fact that the prosecution had not provided any evidence or material against him. The court had also given bail to several others who were involved in the same case.
The plea also said that Chandrasekhar Azad is the leader of the oppressed and depressed section of the society including minorities and that he was working for their social and political awareness. As the conditions demanded the visiting of the SHO, the plea suggested that it will be inconvenient for him to visit the SHO frequently as he has to travel a lot for the cause that he is working for.
The answer to the plea only lies in the judgement set to be delivered on January 21st. The pleas put before the court by the lawyers of Chandrasekhar Azad are reasonable considering the cause for which he works and considering the rights that our Constitution ensures.
Azad is a social leader and is one who raises issues for the deprived. If he feels that the CAA is discriminatory and that it needs to be repealed, then he has every right to do so. The one thing that is to be noted here is that the protests for whatever cause it is must be peaceful and constitutional and Azad has ensured it. Such a social activist should not be given the image of a criminal barring him from allowing him to perform his duties that he has promised to give for the society. Ultimately, the decision of the court will govern but the important thing is that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.