Supreme Court adjourns bail plea of activist Umar Khalid to next week

The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned till next week, hearing on the bail petition of activist Umar Khalid, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged involvement with the larger conspiracy case related to the Delhi riots 2020.

The order was passed by the Bench of Justice Bela Trivedi and Justice Dipankar Dutta on a special leave petition filed by Khalid against the Delhi High Court verdict, which refused to grant him bail last year.

The adjournment was today caused due to absence of Khalid’s counsel, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing in another case.

Sibal was appearing before the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud hearing the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370, which stripped the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.

Showing its reluctance to grant an adjournment for the fifth time since May, the Bench initially observed that Sibal was known to be busy and that the Court would not wait for any particular senior counsel.

However, it granted the adjournment, stating that no such appeals would be entertained on the next day, terming it ‘last opportunity’.

Earlier on August 18, the Apex Court had adjourned the bail petition filed by the former JNU scholar.

The Bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela Trivedi passed the order. Soon after the matter was taken up, the Bench told Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Khalid, that the matter will have to be heard on a non-miscellaneous day.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are non-miscellaneous days, when the Supreme Court takes up hearing on lengthy matters.

After Sibal agreed to the suggestion, the Apex Court listed the matter for hearing after two weeks.

On August 9, the matter was listed for hearing before the Bench of Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra. However, Justice Mishra recused himself from the case.

Justice Bopanna then referred the case to the Chief Justice of India for constituting another Bench to hear the case. This was the third adjournment.

On May 18, the Apex Court had issued notice to the Delhi Police on the bail application of Khalid.

After this, the hearing was adjourned twice – once on July 12 after the Delhi police sought more time to file a counter-affidavit and again on July 24, after a letter of adjournment was circulated by Khalid’s counsel.

The activist, who was arrested in September 2020 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, has spent over two years and 11 months behind the bars.

Delhi Police had charged him with criminal conspiracy, rioting, unlawful assembly. He was further booked under several Sections of UAPA.

The former JNU scholar moved the Apex Court against the Delhi High Court order of October, 2020, which refused to grant him bail in the case. The arguments in the High Court had gone on for more than 20 days.

Khalid had previously approached the High Court challenging the dismissal of his bail application by the Karkardooma court in March 2022.