Sharjeel Imam. Photo: File.

By The Wire Staff

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday refused to grant statutory bail to Sharjeel Imam in a sedition and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case for allegedly making inflammatory speeches at in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University against a controversial legislation.

Despite finding no direct incitement to violence or murder in his speeches against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the court claimed that his rhetoric had a significant mobilising effect and potentially played a role in the outbreak of the February 2020 riots.

Imam was arrested in January 2020 and applied first for bail in July 2022. His lawyers argued that the since he had already spent four years in jail out of the maximum sentence of seven years, he was eligible for statutory bail.

As per Bar and Bench, Imam’s lawyer contended that the Supreme Court had suspended the offence of sedition, and the UAPA provisions applied in his case do not entail a sentence exceeding seven years. However, Delhi Police argued that the punishment for the offences invoked against him should be considered cumulatively rather than concurrently.

The trial court’s ruling followed an order from the Delhi high court instructing it to expedite the decision on his bail plea. Imam’s appeal against the framing of charges is set for a hearing at the Delhi high court on March 8.

According to Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Bajpai of Karkardooma court, while the applicant did not directly incite violence, his speeches and actions galvanised the public, leading to citywide disruptions “and might be the main reason in outbreak of the riots”.

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