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Delhi High Court grants bail to Sharjeel Imam in 2020 riots case involving allegations of sedition

Despite being granted bail in the specific case related to the 2020 communal riots, Sharjeel Imam will remain incarcerated as he is also implicated in a broader conspiracy case connected to the Delhi riots of 2020.

Delhi High Court grants bail to Sharjeel Imam in 2020 riots case involving allegations of sedition AJR
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First Published May 29, 2024, 12:02 PM IST

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday (May 29) granted bail to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) scholar Sharjeel Imam in a case related to the 2020 communal riots, which included accusations of sedition and unlawful activities. The bail decision was made by justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain. Imam had been detained under charges of sedition and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for purportedly delivering inflammatory speeches in Delhi's Jamia area and Aligarh Muslim University during the unrest in Delhi.

Despite being granted bail in the specific case related to the 2020 communal riots, Sharjeel Imam will remain incarcerated as he is also implicated in a broader conspiracy case connected to the Delhi riots of 2020.

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Sharjeel Imam challenged a trial court's decision denying him bail, citing that he has already served more than half of the potential sentence that could be imposed on him in the event of a conviction.

"Appeal is allowed," the bench said after considering arguments from Imam's legal representatives and the Delhi Police.

According to the prosecution, Sharjeel Imam allegedly delivered speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at the Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, where he purportedly threatened to sever Assam and the rest of the North East from the country. Imam was charged in a case filed by the Delhi Police's Special Branch, initially for sedition, with Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) invoked later. He has been in custody since January 28, 2020.

Imam argued before the trial court that he has already spent four years in custody, and if convicted under Section 13 of the UAPA, the maximum sentence is seven years. According to Section 436-A of the CrPC, a person can be released from custody if they have served more than half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offense.

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However, on February 17, the trial court declined to grant him bail, stating that the accused's detention could be prolonged for a further period under "exceptional circumstances" after considering the prosecution's arguments.

Imam is also implicated in several cases stemming from the communal riots of 2020, including the one concerning an alleged larger conspiracy behind the violence. He remains in judicial custody in connection with the conspiracy case as well.

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