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Chandrashekhar Azad gets bail, to stay away from Delhi till elections

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, arrested for leading a massive protest in Delhi’s Jama Masjid area, has got bail after over four weeks in jail. The firebrand leader, however, can’t hold or attend a protest or address any public gathering in the city till Delhi assembly elections, the court said.

Azad was charged with Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for taking out a procession against the widely criticised Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Azad will have to show up at a police station in UP’s Saharanpur, his hometown, every Saturday for the next four weeks, and after that, every last Saturday of every month till the charge-sheet is filed.

Judge Kamini Lau also said that Azad has to inform the police before visiting Delhi for his medical treatment.

On Azad’s counsel request, the Judge allowed Azad to go to Jama Masjid to offer prayers. “He can do so wherever in the next 24 hours before he is escorted to Sharanpur, where he is required to stay for the next one month,” the judge said.

The bail order came a day after Judge Lau schooled the Delhi police on the constitutional rights of citizens. While defending Chandrashekhar’s “right to protest”, the judge asked the public prosecutor, “Who says you cannot protest… have you read the Constitution?”

“You are behaving as if Jama Masjid is Pakistan. Even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India. Which law mentions that there is a prohibition on protest in front of any religious place,” said judge Lau.

A day later, she told the Bhim Army chief’s counsel that one must remember their duties while talking about their rights.

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When the prosecuter told the judge that the Bhim Army chief made inflammatory statements, Judge Kamini Lau asked Mahmood Pracha, Azad’s counsel, to read out the “most inflammatory social media posts” by him.

Pracha then picked some posts in the court, one of which was a quote by Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar that reads, “Don’t think I’ve died after I’m dead, I’ll be alive till the Constitution is alive.”

Pracha told the court that this quote might incite people who are out there to uphold the Constitution.

Pracha then read out another post by Azad, “When Modi is scared he puts the cops forward”, which the Judge said sounds problematic.

“Ambedkarites don’t engage in violence, those who are engaging are RSS people,” Azad’s post had alleged. The judge objected to naming the RSS.

Earlier, a Delhi court on December 21 had dismissed his bail plea and sent him to judicial custody for 14 days following his arrest. The court had said that the substantial grounds for granting bail to the accused were not made out.

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