NEW DELHI – “One of my students spent four year in jail after acquittal without any allegation. But can we give him his four years back?” asks Manoj Jha, Professor at Delhi University and a Rajya Sabha Member in Parliament on February 10, 2023. The video has now gone viral on social media.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader also mentioned other students such as Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi, Sharjeel Imam, Gulfisha and Shifa Ur Rahman who are currently in jail. “This is the situation of an average Muslim,” he said.
Earlier, the Delhi High Court had discharged 11 people including student activists Sharjeel Imam and Asif Iqbal Tanha, who participated in anti-CAA protests, in the 2019 Jamia Nagar violence case, saying they were made “scapegoats” by police and that dissent has to be encouraged, not stifled.
Noting that the accused were merely present at the protest site and there was no incriminating evidence against them, the court said dissent is an extension of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, subject to reasonable restrictions.
It said investigative agencies need to discern the difference between dissent, which has to be given space, and insurrection which should be quelled. The court further said the legal proceedings against the 11 accused were initiated in a “perfunctory and cavalier fashion” and “allowing them to undergo the rigmarole of a long-drawn trial does not augur well for the criminal justice system of the country”.