A Supreme Court ruling on Friday clarified the observations made in the Delhi High Court verdict regarding JNU student Sharjeel Imam. He will not be prejudiced by the rejection of co-accused Umar Khalid’s bail plea in a case of alleged conspiracy behind the February 2020 riots in northeast Delhi.
A bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka, who was hearing Imam’s appeal concerning the remarks made against him in the October 18 judgement of the high court, clarified in one paragraph of the verdict that “nothing stated hereinabove shall constitute an expression of any opinion as to the merits of the case”.
It occurs when bail applications are argued as if they were a merits appeal, according to Justiceadded that bail applications should not exceed ten minutes in length.
The high court rejected Khalid’s bail application because he was in constant contact with another co-accused, and there was prima facie evidence against him.
“…having carefully reviewed the charge sheet and taking into account the fact that the appellant (Khalid) was in constant communication with other co-accused individuals, including Sharjeel Imam, who is arguably in charge of the conspiracy; at this stage, it is difficult to form an opinion that therenot reasonable grounds to believe that the prosecution against the petitioner is prima facie not proven,” the high court had stated in its verdict.
As a result of the observations made by the high court in its order denying bail to one of the co-accused in the case, the counsel appearing for Imam told the bench that he is constrained to appeal to the apex court. Consequently, serious prejudice would be caused to the petitioner due to the observations made by the high court.
“We note that the high court has clarified in paragraph 68 of its judgment that the observations do not constitute an opinion on the merits of the case,” the bench stated.
“We clarify that any observations made regarding the petitioner (Imam) will not prejudice him,” the court stated.
In his opinion, it is a complete waste of time when hearings on bail applications go on for an extended period of time. A number of individuals, including Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, and several others, have been accused of being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots, which resulted in 53 deaths and more than 700 injuries. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code are being used to prosecute the charges.
At the time of the violence, protests were being held against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA)Register of Citizens (NRC).