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Delhi HC Slams Trial Court for Denying Bail to Sharjeel Imam, Citing Lack of Justification

Delhi HC Slams Trial Court for Denying Bail to Sharjeel Imam, Citing Lack of Justification

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has observed that it is not justifiable to deny bail to Sharjeel Imam in the sedition case. The court stated that the malicious allegations against Sharjeel were influencing the trial court’s decision. Earlier, the court had observed that the evidence against Sharjeel Imam was “scanty and sketchy,” and it was not enough to prove that he had incited riots. This observation came after Sharjeel had spent four years in prison before being granted bail on May 28th. The detailed court order was released recently.

A bench comprising Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Saurabh Banerjee granted bail to Sharjeel, holding that there is no justification for denying bail just because the allegations are serious. The bench noted that the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is implemented with the idea that no undertrial prisoner should be detained beyond half of the maximum period of sentence. Beyond that, there must be reasonable grounds for detention. In the present case, the court found no reason to keep the young man in jail without bail.

While granting relief to Imam, the court rejected the Delhi Police’s objection that the delay was solely attributable to him, as it was at his instance that the trial was stayed in 2022. The court asserted that an accused who exercises their legal right to remedies cannot be blamed for causing delays. In the present case, the stay order was granted based on joint statements from both parties, and the State did not challenge it further.

The court observed, “If an accused chooses to avail legal remedies in accordance with judicial pronouncements, they cannot be blamed for causing delays in the matter. Since the accused continued to be in detention, they were not going to gain any advantage by exploring such other possible legal avenues. Sharjeel Imam, a former research student at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), was framed by the police for his alleged role in the 2020 Delhi riots. The case pertains to a speech he delivered at Shaheen Bagh during the 2019 anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests.

Despite the Delhi High Court granting bail to Sharjeel Imam in the sedition case, he continues to remain incarcerated as his bail plea in the 2020 Delhi riots conspiracy case is still pending before the court.

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