The Delhi High Court on Thursday granted liberty to Sharjeel Imam to approach the Trial Court seeking interim bail in an FIR against him involving the offence of Sedition under sec. 124A of Indian Penal Code, in view of recent Apex Court order wherein the sedition law has been kept in abeyance till the Union Government reconsiders the provision.
The development came after Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad raised a preliminary objection on the maintainability of the interim bail application before the High Court, submitting that according to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling, the bail application has to be moved in the first instance before the Special Court and if aggrieved, an appeal would thereafter lie before the High Court.
A division bench comprising of Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Mini Pushkarna disposed of the interim bail application by ordering thus:
"In view of the objection raised by the Special Public Prosecutor, the counsel for appellant seeks leave to with application with liberty to file an application before the special court. Liberty as prayed for is granted."
Imam was booked vide FIR 22/2020 by the Delhi Police. The alleged offence under UAPA was added later. The FIR relates to the alleged inflammatory speeches made by him in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia area in Delhi against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir appearing for Imam argued that the allegations in the appeal relates to the offence of sedition essentially and thus his case would be covered by the Supreme Court order.
SPP on the other hand did not deny the fact that the allegations in the case related to offence of sedition, however, an objection was raised on the maintainability of the application.
Reliance was placed on a 2014 Supreme Court decision wherein it was clarified that for offences under the statutes of MCOCA and UAPA, as the same are triable by a Special Court, the application for bail will have to be moved before the Special Court and shall not lie before the High Court under sec. 439 or 482 of CrPC.
Accordingly, the Court has listed the pending appeals challenging the order denying Imam bail as well as framing charges against him in the matter on August 26.
Earlier, opposing the bail plea in FIR 22/2020, the prosecution had argued that the severity and gravity of the offence which Imam has been charged with cannot be overlooked in any manner before applying the Triple test for bail.
The Trial Court had framed charges against Imam in the matter under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc.), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC along with Section 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities) of the UAPA.
Case Title: Sharjeel Imam v. The State of NCT of Delhi
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 496