Wednesday, February 1, 2023

JNU Student’s Plea For Clubbing FIRs In Anti CAA Protest Cases: SC Notice To Four States

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the governments of Assam, UP, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to respond to a petition filed by JNU student Sharjeel Imam seeking clubbing of all FIRs lodged against him for his alleged divisive and anti-India utterances during anti-CAA protests.

Imam wanted the apex court to order probe by a single agency after clubbing of all the FIRs lodged against him in Delhi, Assam, UP, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Besides hate speech, he has also been charged with sedition and certain provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. 

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India sought more time to file reply, and said that Sharjeel Imam is facing charges in several states, to which Advocate Siddhartha Dave,  appearing for the petitioner cited the recent Arnab Goswami case and the Aligarh Muslim University case. On which Mr Mehta made objections and said that the contents of these cases are different from the present case, he further added that “notice only to NCT of Delhi not enough. Other states where he made speech should also be made parties.”

The matter was heard by the three judges Bench of Supreme Court including Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul & Justice M.R. Shah.

Thereafter, Solicitor General said that “reply is ready, will file tomorrow. But notice should be issued to other states also” and he also mentioned that there aredifferent facts as in “Arnab Goswami’s” case all FIRs were cyclostyled.

Prior to today’s hearing, the Supreme Court on 1st May has directed the Delhi Government to respond to a plea by anti CAA activist Sharjeel Imam seeking multiple FIR that levelled seditions charged against him for making inflammatory speeches be clubbed together. 

Sidhharth Dave, Senior Advocate, appearing for Imam, submitted that all five FIR’s registered by different states alleging were based on two speech given by him. The counsel referred to indulgence shown by Supreme Court in case of Arnab Goswami, Editor-in Chief of Republic TV. Imam is facing charges of sedition and other grave crimes. Currently, Sharjeel Imam is lodged in Guwahati jail.

5 FIR’s have been registered against him in different States for involvement in violence at Jamia on December 13 and 15, 2019 for instigating and abetting riots, due to his seditious speech on December 13 and for a speech he made Aligarh Muslim University against Citizenship Amendment Act on January 15. Imam, who was previously one of organisers of Citizenship Amendment Act protest at Shaheen Bagh is facing sedition charges under Sections 124 and 153-A including Section 13, UAPA.

On April 25, a Delhi Court extended investigation period under UAPA from 90 days to 180 days meaning that detention of Imam gets extended till investigation period. Delhi’s crime branch had sought more time on ground that anti-coronavirus lockdown had seriously disrupted pace of investigation.

-India Legal Bureau

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