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Sharjeel Imam moves SC seeking to expunge remarks made against him by Delhi HC during Umar Khalid’s bail plea hearing

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Former JNU student Sharjeel Imam has filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court, seeking direction to the Delhi High Court to expunge the remarks made against him, while rejecting the bail application of Umar Khalid in the larger conspiracy case, which resulted in riots in the national capital in February, 2020.

On October 18, the Delhi High Court, while rejecting the bail application of Delhi Riots accused Umar Khalid, had observed that it found it a ‘little difficult’ to accept the contention that a string of commonality did not exist among all the accused.

The Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar made the observation in response to Senior Advocate Trideep Pais’s argument that lower court misinterpreted witness statements to draw a connection between Khalid and Imam,when they have never spoken to each other. 

Appearing for Khalid, Pais had argued that he was being ‘lumped’ with a person, who had called for a ‘deeply communal’ protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The High Court had further noted that both Khalid and Imam were members of the same WhatsApp group and also took part in the protest at Jantar Mantar. 

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The Bench also took into consideration the statement made by various protected witnesses, which mentioned the presence of the duo at several meetings, including the one held at the office of PFI.

It said the veracity of witness statements cannot be tested at the stage of bail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The High Court had also said that the charge sheet revealed that Khalid was in constant touch with other co-accused persons, including Imam. 

Taking objection to these remarks made by the High Court, Imam said in the SLP that such observations have been made without giving an opportunity of hearing to him. 

He further said that such observations touched upon the merits of the criminal case in which he was also an accused and there was a separate bail application filed by him, which was pending before the High Court itself. 

The High Court’s remarks in the bail order of Umar Khalid were likely to cause prejudice in his bail application, Imam added.

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Seeking expunging of such remarks, Imam sought that his bail application be heard independently, without being influenced by the remarks in the bail order passed in Khalid’s case.

Imam was arrested in January, 2020 in connection with several cases registered in connection with an alleged inflammatory speech delivered by him during the anti-CAA protests in the national capital.

He was named as an accused in the larger conspiracy case under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the supplementary charge sheet filed in November, 2020.

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