Delhi HC grants bail to student activist Sharjeel Imam in sedition case

He has been in custody since January 2020

Sharjeel-Imam Anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Imam | via Facebook

The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, granted bail to student activist Sharjeel Imam in connection with a communal riots case involving allegations of sedition and unlawful activities.

A bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain granted him bail after hearing the counsel for Imam and the Delhi Police. He had sought statutory bail on the grounds of time spent in custody since January 2020.

The prosecution said Imam allegedly made speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019 and at the Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019 where he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the North East from India. The statements were made during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Imam, a research scholar with Jawaharlal Nehru University, was booked in the case registered by Delhi Police's Special Branch, which was initially registered for the offence of sedition and Section 13 of UAPA was invoked later. He has been in custody since January 28, 2020 in the matter.

The trial court had refused to grant him bail on February 17 and ruled that his custody could be extended for a further period in "exceptional circumstances" after hearing the prosecution's case.

Imam had claimed before the trial court that he has been in custody for the last four years and the maximum sentence for the offence under section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is 7 years, if convicted.

As per Section 436-A CrPC, a person can be released from custody if he has spent more than half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offence.

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