The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted interim protection from arrest to Urvashi Chudawala, a 22-year-old Masters student of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who was booked for sedition for allegedly raising slogans in support of Sharjeel Imam during a rally held for the LGBTQ community in South Mumbai.
The order was passed by a single bench of Justice S K Shinde. In the event of arrest, the Court ordered, she should be released on personal bond of Rs. 25000. She has been asked to appear before the investigating officer on February 12 and 13 between 11 am & 2 pm. Further, she has been told not to leave limits of Mumbai and Thane.
The Court inquired from the prosecutor appearing in the case as to whether guidelines accepted by the High Court in 2015 for cases of sedition have been followed.
To this, the APP submitted that they have not followed the guidelines yet, but they will.
Court was referring to the draft guidelines submitted by the then Congress-NCP government in 2012. Under the said guidelines, police is required to fulfill certain pre-conditions before invoking Section 124 A of IPC against any person.
The guidelines which were accepted by the Bombay High Court in 2015 require the the public prosecutor to seek the opinion of the district law officer in writing, wherein reasons for invoking sedition are elucidated.
Thus, the High Court said-
"You can still follow (the guidelines) if you want , we can pass the final order in her plea later."
She had moved the Bombay High Court seeking anticipatory bail after Additional Sessions Judge Prashant Rajvaidya refused to grant her any protection from arrest.
She was booked under Sections 124 A (sedition), 153 B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 505 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
On February 5, a Sessions Court in Mumbai dismissed her application for pre-arrest bail, observing that a prima facie case of sedition was made out from her slogans.
Dismissing her plea, Additional Sessions Judge Prashant Rajvaidya observed-
"Her statement prima facie attracts the ingredients of the charges of sedition under section 124A of Indian Penal Code, which attracts life imprisonment. The case is of serious nature, custodial interrogation is required to reach the roots of the matter."
According to the prosecution, Urvashi shouted - "Sharjeel Tere Sapno Ko Hum Manzil Tak Pahuchaenge" (Sharjeel, we will realise your dreams).
Activist Sharjeel Imam, a PhD student from JNU who did his Masters from IIT Mumbai, was arrested by Delhi police over his alleged inflammatory speeches during protests against CAA-NRC. He has been booked by five separate states for sedition.