24 July 2023 7:34 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the bail hearing of former JNU scholar and activist Umar Khalid, who has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged involvement in the larger conspiracy surrounding the communal violence that broke out in February 2020 in the Indian capital. Khalid has been behind bars since September 2020, awaiting his trial. A...
The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the bail hearing of former JNU scholar and activist Umar Khalid, who has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged involvement in the larger conspiracy surrounding the communal violence that broke out in February 2020 in the Indian capital. Khalid has been behind bars since September 2020, awaiting his trial.
A bench comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Bela M Trivedi was considering Khalid’s plea challenging the decision of the Delhi High Court to deny him bail last year. In terms of an adjournment letter circulated by the counsel for the petitioner, the bench adjourned the hearing.
Khalid, a former scholar and researcher from Jawaharlal Nehru University, is one of the accused in the larger conspiracy case relating to the 2020 North-East Delhi communal riots case. He has been accused along with 59 others, including Pinjra Tod members Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, and student activist Gulfisha Fatima.
Others who have been charge-sheeted in the case include former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, and Shifa-Ur-Rehman, former Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, activist Khalid Saifi, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Mohd Salim Khan, and Athar Khan.
Khalid and JNU student Sharjeel Imam were the last to be charge-sheeted in the case. Zargar, Kalita, Narwal, Tanha, and Jahan have already been granted bail. Kalita, Narwhal and Tanha were granted bail by a division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani last year.
Khalid has been booked under Sections 13, 16, 17, and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, 1959 and Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
Last year, in October, the Delhi High Court had upheld a March 2022 order of a trial court denying Khalid bail. A division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar observed that the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) were geared towards the 2020 North-East Delhi riots through various ‘conspiratorial meetings’ held from December 2019 till February 2020, some of which were also attended by Khalid.
In the order, the high court also took a serious view of Khalid using the words ‘inquilabli salam’ (revolutionary salute) and ‘krantikari istiqbal’ (revolutionary welcome) in a speech given in Amaravati in February 2020, considering it to be an incitement of violence. “Revolution by itself isn’t always bloodless, which is why it is contradistinctly used with the prefix - a ‘bloodless’ revolution. So, when we use the expression ‘revolution’, it is not necessarily bloodless,” the Delhi High Court observed. During the case, the bench also questioned the UAPA accused for using the world ‘jumla’ against the prime minister, remarking that there should be a ‘lakshman rekha’ for criticism.
Khalid challenged the Delhi High Court’s verdict before the Supreme Court and in May of this year, a bench headed by Justice Bopanna issued notice in his plea. Earlier in May, another bench of the apex court had dismissed Delhi police’s plea against a high court order granting bail to co-accused Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita.
On the last day, the bench adjourned the hearing on the behest of the Delhi Police which sought more time to file a counter-affidavit in response to Khalid’s petition.
Umar Khalid v. State of NCT of Delhi | Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 6857 of 2023