A Delhi court on Wednesday summoned Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam on 1 September in a sedition case, while taking cognisance of the offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) after the police had charge sheeted him for allegedly making instigating speeches at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in January this year.
Additional sessions judge Dharmendra Rana, however, did not take cognisance of the other sections, including sedition (124A) and 153 A (punishment for wanton vilification or attack upon religion, etc), after the investigating agency told the court that sanction to prosecute Imam was still awaited.
Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, investigating agencies have to take the state government’s approval or sanction while filing charge sheets in sedition cases.
On Wednesday, additional public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed told the court that while sanction for prosecution under UAPA had been granted, a request has been made to the competent authority for sanction in the sedition case.
Noting this, the court said, “In view of the same, I take cognisance for commission of offence under section 13 of UAPA in the present matter. However, the issue of taking cognisance for the commission of offence under section 124A (sedition), 153A (punishment for sedition), 153B (Assertion prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (circulation of certain statement, rumours, etc) of the Indian Penal Code, is deferred for the time being for the want of requisite sanction,” the judge said in his order .
The court said a long date has been being given in the matter as the normal functioning of the courts is suspended, while noting that “even the accused is COVID-19 positive”. It said in case Imam could not be physically produced on the next date of hearing, he would be produced through video-conferencing.
“We are yet to see the copy of the charge sheet. We would be able to comment only once we have gone through the document, “ Imam’s lawyer said, reacting to Wednesday’s development.
The police’s crime branch had filed the charge sheet in the Patiala House Courts on Saturday against Imam in a case registered against him on 25 January. The police said Imam had given a seditious speech at AMU in January.
“In the garb of protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA), he (Imam) exhorted people of a particular community to block the highways leading to major cities and resort to ‘chakka jaam’, thereby disrupting normal life. Also, in the name of opposing CAA, he openly threatened to cut off Assam and other Northeastern states from the rest of the country,” police had said.
In this case, Imam has been charged with delivering an ‘inflammatory and seditious’ speech. The officer said in this same case, police later added sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Imam.
Imam was arrested by Delhi police from Bihar’s Jehanabad on 28 January. Earlier on 18 April, police had filed the first charge sheet against Imam in connection with the riots outside Jamia Millia Islamia, during which protesters had clashed with police. In the first charge sheet, police had charged Imam with allegedly instigating riots at the campus during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.