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HC Judge Recuse from Hearing Bail Pleas in UAPA Case Involving Sharjeel Imam & Others

Delhi High Court Judge Recuse from Hearing Bail Pleas in UAPA Case Involving Sharjeel Imam & Others
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On Thursday, Justice Amit Sharma of the Delhi High Court recused himself from hearing a batch of bail pleas in a UAPA case related to an alleged larger conspiracy in the 2020 Delhi Pogrom, including that of student leader Sharjeel Imam.

The matters were listed before a division bench headed by Justice Prathiba M Singh after a change in the roster of judges dealing with the cases. The court order stated, “Let these matters be listed before the bench of which one of us (Justice Amit Sharma) is not a member, subject to orders of Hon’ble the Acting Chief Justice.”

On April 11, 2022, the trial court denied bail to Imam, who was arrested in the case for a larger conspiracy during the North East Delhi riots that took place on February 23, 2020.

In March, the Delhi Police opposed Imam’s bail plea on the grounds that he mobilized members of the minority community and “propagated” “chakka jam” as a disruptive mode of protest with “no window for a peaceful protest”. The police claims that the protests were part of a conspiracy to incite violence during the visit of then United States President Donald Trump.

The other accused persons in the case include Meeran Haider, the youth wing leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and Shifa-ur-Rehman, the Alumni Association of Jamia Millia Islamia president.

In addition, student activist Khalid Saifi, founder of United Against Hate, and several others, including former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid, have also been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly being the “masterminds” behind the February 2020 riots in northeast Delhi that resulted in 53 deaths and over 700 injuries.

Imam was booked on charges of sedition, and later Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was invoked. He has been in custody since January 28, 2020.

Initially, Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar were presiding over the cases as a Division Bench. However, after Justice Mridul was transferred to the Manipur High Court, according to reports, the case was assigned to Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain.

Following another roster change, the case was reassigned to Justices Prathiba M Singh and Amit Sharma. However, with Justice Sharma recusing himself today, a fourth bench will now hear the matter.

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