“Sharjeel Imam, Student Activist, Granted Bail in Sedition Case Dating Back to 2020”

As per Delhi Police, Sharjeel Imam delivered inflammatory speeches during gatherings held at Jamia Millia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University.

Nearly four and a half years since his arrest on charges related to delivering provocative speeches, activist Sharjeel Imam was granted bail by the Delhi High Court today. Imam had contested a trial court’s decision denying him bail, arguing that he had already served more than half of the potential sentence if convicted.

Imam, a research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, was arrested in January 2020 following allegations of sedition for purportedly advocating for the isolation of Northeast India during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Legal actions were initiated against him across various states, including Delhi, Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

According to the Delhi Police, Imam delivered divisive speeches at events held at Jamia Millia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University. He was allegedly involved in organizing protests against the new citizenship law at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh.

During the proceedings before the high court bench comprising Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Manoj Jain, the prosecution contended that Sharjeel Imam purportedly made threats to sever the Northeast from the nation during his speeches. Imam faced charges under the relevant section of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to sedition, and Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was also invoked against him.

In his plea for bail, the activist informed the court that the maximum sentence under Section 13 of the UAPA is seven years, and he has already spent more than four years in custody. Previously, a trial court had denied him bail, citing the possibility of extending an accused’s custody under “exceptional circumstances.” Additionally, Imam faces charges in multiple cases related to the 2020 riots in Northeast Delhi.

In 2020, Imam was charged with sedition by the Delhi Police for allegedly delivering provocative speeches at Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Subsequently, Section 13 of the UAPA was applied against him, carrying a maximum punishment of seven years. He has been in judicial custody since January 28, 2020.

However, the trial court stated that Imam had “cleverly manipulated the actual facts and incited the public to create chaos in the city,” influencing the sentiments of “a specific community” and provoking them to participate in disruptive activities. While the trial court couldn’t consider Section 124A of the IPC, it remarked that “if the acts and actions of the applicant are considered, in a normal dictionary meaning, they can be termed as seditious.”

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