Despite Calling Evidence ‘Sketchy’, Delhi Court Denies Bail to Sharjeel Imam3 min read


On 22nd October, JNU student Sharjeel Imam was denied bail by an additional sessions judge in a Delhi court, Anuj Agrawal, who stated that the “tone and tenor of the speech” he delivered on13th December, 2019 was “incendiary” and “tend to have a debilitating effect upon public tranquillity, communal peace, and harmony of the society.”

The court came to the conclusion that despite the fact that the evidence to support the police argument that the rioters were provoked by his speech to engage in acts of riots, mischief, attacking the police, and so on, were few and vague.

The court has stated in the judgement that “Neither the prosecution has mentioned any eye witnesses, nor is there any other evidence on record to demonstrate that co-accused was instigated and performed the claimed crime of rioting, etc., after hearing applicant/accused Sharjeel Imam’s speech.” Furthermore, there is no evidence verifying the prosecution’s assertion that alleged rioters/co-accused were in the audience when applicant/accused Sharjeel Imam spoke on December 13, 2019,”

It was further stated that “Upon specific inquiry by this court, Ld. Special Public Prosecutor fairly conceded that there is no material available with the prosecution to the effect that applicant/accused and other co-accused persons were members of any common social platform viz whatsapp etc so as to fasten the liability of acts of co-accused upon present applicant with aid of section 109 IPC,” In the current case, the crucial link between the speech of 13.12.2019 and the subsequent conduct of co-accused is strikingly lacking.”

The prosecution version on this count appears to be falling like a house of cards if the legally inadmissible basis of inventive thinking and disclosure statement of accused/co-accused are discarded. Though the Ld. Special Public Prosecutor contended that the disclosure statements are relevant under section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, the argument appears to be nothing more than a last-ditch effort on his side to preserve the prosecution’s day.

The judge, on the other hand, did not find that the claims against Imam for sedition and spreading hatred between various groups on religious grounds, which were made after his December 13, 2019 speech, were prima facie genuine. Only these two sections of the IPC, as well as sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act as well as the Arms Act, remained after the judge ruled that other sections of the IPC, as well as sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the Arms Act against Sharjeel Imam, were inapplicable in the absence of any clear link between the speech and the ensuing violence.

Undoubtedly, the court was implying that, if not for Section 124A IPC, Sharjeel Imam could be charged under Section 153A IPC. The court, but in the other hand, ignored the fact that accepted law contradicted his finding that Section 153A IPC might be used against Imam if his speech was evaluated in its entirety and in portions. The court elected not to seek out if any there was even a prima facie case against Imam because a lengthy examination of the evidence and elaborate documenting of the merits were to be avoided at the stage of evaluating an application for bail.

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