Sharjeel Imam's Case Not To Be Prejudiced By Observations Of Delhi HC Against Him In Umar Khalid's Bail Plea : Supreme Court

Update: 2022-12-09 07:45 GMT

The Supreme Court on Friday clarified that the observations made by the Delhi High Court against Sharjeel Imam in the order denying bail to Umar Khalid in the Delhi riots conspiracy case will not prejudice Imam's case.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka was considering a special leave petition filed by Imam seeking to expunge the remarks in the order passed by a division bench of the Delhi High Court on October 18 denying bail to Umar Khalid.

"We clarify that any observations made in respect of the role of the petitioner in the impugned order will not prejudice the petitioner in any manner", the bench observed while disposing of the petition. 

Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave, appearing for Imam, said that the High Court has made elaborate findings against him while considering the bail application of co-accused in the case. When the bench pointed out that the High Court has said that the observations are preliminary in nature and will not influence the trial, Dave replied that the clarification was made in the context of Umar Khalid alone.

The High Court had said that Sharjeel Imam was arguably 'at the head of the conspiracy' with whom Umar Khalid was in touch. The High Court had also cited certain instances of alleged meetings between the duo to hold that Khalid was a part of larger conspiracy behind the riots which took place in north east Delhi during February 2020.

Taking objection to these remarks made by the High Court, Imam filed the Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court, pointing out that such observations have been made without affording an opportunity of hearing to him. He also says that such observations touch upon the merits of the criminal case in which he is also an accused and there is a separate bail application filed by him which is pending before the High Court itself. Hence, Imam says that the High Court's remarks in the Umar Khalid's bail order will cause prejudice to his bail application.

It was on October 18 that a division bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar denied bail to Khalid in the FIR No.59/2020 registered by Delhi Police Special Cell invoking provisions of UAPA and IPC provisions relating to criminal conspiracy to allege that the Delhi riots were the result of a larger conspiracy hatched by activists. The chargesheet draws a link between anti-CAA protests and Delhi riots and has arrayed several student activists as accused.

In the SLP, Imam contends that the High Court's observations against him are in any case not borne out of the record. Also, such remarks were not integral to deciding Khalid's application. It is argued that the High Court violated the principles of natural justice by making such prejudicial remarks against him without hearing him. Therefore, he has sought expunging of those those remarks and a direction that his bail application should be independently heard uninfluenced by the remarks in the bail order passed in Umar Khalid's case.

Sharjeel Imam has been under custody since January 2020 in connection with several cases registered over an alleged inflammatory speech delivered by him during anti-CAA protests. He was named as an accused in the larger conspiracy case in the supplementary chargesheet filed in November 2020.

Case Title : Sharjeel Imam vs State of NCT of Delhi Diary No. 36787-2022

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