The Karnataka High Court observed on Friday that no prima facie case of sedition was made out against the three Kashmiri students, who were arrested in Hubli over allegations of raising pro-Pakistan slogans in February.
While hearing their bail pleas, Justice G Narendar observed "Prima facie the complaint does not disclose any material which could be considered as an ingredient constituting the offence as against the petitioners."
The judge also observed that the prosecution should have looked at "a larger picture" and at the "attempts being made by the Central Government to ensure the integration of that class of people(Kashmiris) into mainstream".
Justice Narendar said
"It is fairly admitted by the high court government pleader that the petitioner - students are sponsored on scholarship by the Central Government. If that be the fact, it is surprising that the said fact has not been appreciated by the trial court in its true perspective. The prosecution has to look at a larger picture and attempts being made by the Central government to ensure integration of that class of people into the mainstream."
The Court also observed that the complainant in the case - the Principal of the Engineering College where the accused are studying - should have made an effort to counsel them.
"It is not in dispute that the accused are all in their teens or immediately out of their teens. It would have been a more responsive effort if the complainant had made an effort to counsel the accused and made them realize the purpose for which they are here. That the very fact that the accused have been sponsored on a scholarship by the Central Government, would demonstrate the fact that they are all people with roots and their background is vetted by none else than the Union Government. Merely on account of a perception by a group construing the alleged to be of an offensive nature, it ought not to have negated the efforts being made by the Union Government. It is sad to see that the larger perspective has been lost on account of shortsighted actions", the Court observed.
The case was then posted to April 24 at the request of the prosecution.
The three accused -Basit Aashiq Sofi, Talib Majeed, and Amir Mohi Uddin Wani - have been under custody since February 17.
The Hubli Bar Association had passed a resolution vowing that none of their members would represent the accused because of their "anti-national activities".
The resolution was challenged in the High Court by a group of other advocates from different parts of the state.
On February 24, a bench led by Chief Justice Abhay Oka had directed Hubli Police Commissioner to provide police protection to advocates from Bengaluru, who were desirous of representing the accused. On February 25, the advocates of the accused were assaulted, when they had approached the Dharward court seeking bail for the Kashmiri students.
The resolution was later withdrawn after the Karnataka High Court came down heavily on the Association for acting against the professional ethics and constitutional duties of advocates.
On March 9, Judge Gangadhara K N of the Additional Sessions Court, Hubli denied them bail observing "The safety and security of this Country gets priority over all. We must allow the investigation agency to do its job without any body's intervention,by considering the nature of the allegation, until completion of the Investigation, the petitioners are not entitled for the bail as prayed therein, even on any ground they are not made out of the grounds to grant the bail."
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