High Court Issues Notice to Sharjeel Imam, Others on Police Challenge to Discharge

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Earlier this month, the trial court had discharged 11 people, including Imam and Tanha, while holding that they were made “scapegoats” by police and that dissent has to be encouraged, not stifled.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to student activists Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha and others seeking their response to the city police’s challenge to a trial court order discharging them in a 2019 Jamia Nagar violence case.

Clarifying that the observations of the lower court would not affect further investigation in the matter or trial, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma issued notice to Imam and others on the plea by the Delhi Police, a PTI report said.

Earlier this month, the trial court had discharged 11 people, including Imam and Tanha, while holding that they were made “scapegoats” by police and that dissent has to be encouraged, not stifled.

The FIR was lodged in connection with the violence that erupted after a clash between police and people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in South Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area in December 2019.

The police petition has said the trial court’s order is in the teeth of well-settled principles of law, suffers from grave infirmities which go to the root of the matter and is perverse in the eyes of the law.

The police plea said the trial court has not only discharged the accused persons but was also swayed by “emotional” and “sentimental feelings” and has cast aspersions on the prosecuting agency and passed “gravely prejudicial” and “adverse” remarks against the prosecuting agency and the investigations.

The matter would be heard next on March 16, the report said.

Imam was accused of instigating the riots by delivering a provocative speech in the area on December 13, 2019. He will continue to remain in jail as he is an accused in the larger conspiracy case of the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.

In its order, the trial court had said there were admittedly scores of protesters at the site and some anti-social elements within the crowd could have created an environment of disruption and havoc.

While discharging the 11 accused, the trial court ordered the framing of charges against one of the accused, Mohammad Ilyas.

The police had filed the charge sheet against the accused under various sections of the IPC, including 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

The charge sheet also included provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

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