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Sharjeel Imam Granted bail by Delhi HC in 2020 ‘Delhi Riots’ Case involving ‘Sedition’

Sharjeel Imam Granted bail by Delhi HC in 2020 Delhi Riots Case involving Sedition
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The Delhi High Court granted bail to student activist Sharjeel Imam on Wednesday in connection with a 2020 communal riots case involving allegations of sedition and unlawful activities.

Imam had appealed a trial court order that refused to grant him bail, despite him having served more than half of the maximum sentence that can be imposed on him if convicted.

“After hearing the counsel for Imam and the Delhi Police, the appeal is allowed,” said a bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain.

According to the prosecution, Imam allegedly made speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at the Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, where he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the North East from the country.

Imam was initially 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.

Imam argued before the trial court that he has been in custody for the last four years, and if convicted, the maximum sentence for the offence under Section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is 7 years.

As per Section 436-A CrPC, a person can be released from custody if they have served more than half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offence.

The trial court, however, refused to grant him bail on February 17, stating that the accused’s custody could be extended for a further period in “exceptional circumstances” after considering the prosecution’s case.

Imam is an accused in several cases related to the 2020 communal riots, including the case involving an alleged larger conspiracy behind the violence. He is currently in judicial custody in the conspiracy case as well.

Imam had appealed a trial court order that denied him bail, with the court stating that the contents of Imam’s anti-CAA speeches given at Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU could be considered “seditious” according to the “dictionary meaning.”

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