The Bombay High Court on Monday extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Kris Chudawala, a 22-year-old Masters student of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for three more weeks. Chudawala was booked for sedition for allegedly raising slogans in support of Sharjeel Imam during a rally held for the LGBTQ community in South Mumbai.
Justice SK Shinde passed the order after Court was informed by the Additional Public Prosecutor that they were awaiting reports from forensics and needed more time. Court had granted interim protection from arrest to Kris on February 11 after she moved High Court seeking anticipatory bail as Additional Sessions Judge Prashant Rajvaidya refused to grant Kris any protection from arrest.
In the previous hearing, Justice Shinde had asked the APP as to whether guidelines accepted by the High Court in 2015 for cases of sedition have been followed in the present case. To this, the APP submitted that they have not followed the guidelines yet, but they will.
Court was referring to the draft guidelines submitted in 2012. Under the said guidelines, police are 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, also require the public prosecutor to seek the opinion of the district law officer in writing, wherein reasons for invoking sedition are elucidated.
Kris 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, Judge Rajvaidya dismissed Kris's 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.
The next date of hearing is March 16.