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Sharjeel Imam Granted Bail

The Delhi high court on Wednesday granted bail to JNU scholar Sharjeel Imam in a 2020 communal riots case involving allegations of sedition and unlawful activities. The bail was granted by a bench of justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain. Sharjeel Imam was arrested in the sedition and UAPA case for allegedly making inflammatory speeches in Delhi’s Jamia area and Aligarh Muslim University during the Delhi riots.

Sharjeel Imam will, however, continue to remain in jail since he is also an accused in the larger conspiracy case in relation to the Delhi riots of 2020.

Sharjeel Imam assailed a trial court order refusing to grant him bail even though he has undergone more than half of the maximum sentence that can be awarded to him in case of a conviction.

“Appeal is allowed,” a bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain said after hearing the counsel for Sharjeel Imam and the Delhi Police.

The case against Sharjeel Imam

According to the prosecution, Sharjeel Imam allegedly made speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at the Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, where he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the Northeast from the country.

Imam was booked in the case registered by Delhi Police’s Special Branch, which was initially registered for the offence of sedition and Section 13 of UAPA was invoked later. He has been in custody since January 28, 2020 in the matter.

Sharjeel Imam’s argument

Sharjeel Imam had claimed before the trial court that he has been in custody for the last four years and the maximum sentence for the offence under section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is 7 years, if convicted.

As per Section 436-A CrPC, a person can be released from custody if he has spent more than half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offence.

The trial court, while refusing to grant him bail on February 17, had ruled that the accused’s custody could be extended for a further period in “exceptional circumstances” after hearing the prosecution’s case.

Imam is an accused in several cases arising from the communal riots of 2020, including the case concerning alleged larger conspiracy behind the violence. He is in judicial custody in the conspiracy case as well.

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