Interim Relief to TISS Student Booked for Pro-Sharjeel Slogan

The final anticipatory bail application hearing is set for 24 February.

2 min read
Mumbai Police have registered an FIR against activist Kris Chudawala and 50 others under IPC Section 124A (sedition).

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday, 11 February, granted interim protection from arrest to TISS student Kris Chudawala, who has been booked for sedition for allegedly raising slogans in support of Sharjeel Imam – arrested for sedition over “provocative speech”.

Kris, who has been referred to by his deadname, Urvashi Chudawala, in the FIR, reportedly raised the slogans at the Mumbai Pride Solidarity Gathering on 1 February.

The defence argued that neither does Chudawala know Imam personally nor has he ever met him. Also, statements made by Sharjeel for which he was slapped with sedition charges were not repeated by Kris Chudawala.

The defence pointed that according to the Supreme Court guidelines, legal opinion must be sought from the District Law Officer before filing sedition charges. The prosecution is yet to seek opinion in this case.

The prosecution has alleged that Chudawala has not cooperated with the police at all since the case was filed. Despite being summoned to the police station before an FIR was registered against him, Chudawala reportedly failed to turn up.

The prosecution also claimed that Chudawala was looking at his mobile phone while chanting slogans at the venue, as if someone was prompting him to shout those slogans online.

Reacting to the allegations that Chudawala had ample time to destroy evidence from his phone and that he also deleted his messages on Sharjeel Imam on Facebook, Chudawala’s lawyer argued that he had only deactivated his account and not deleted it. As a result, once the account was activated, all his messages would be intact. Besides, Chudawala was only tagged in a post on Imam and he did not post the message himself.

The Bombay High Court granted Kris Chudawala relief from arrest on a personal bond of Rs 25,000. A few other conditions imposed include, Chudawala having to be present for interrogation on 12 and 13 February from 11 am to 2 pm and after that, be present as per police requirement. 

Chudawala was exempted from having to visit the police station on Friday, 14 February, due to a college examination scheduled to take place that day.

The TISS student has been asked to hand over his mobile phone to the police and provide his address and contact details as well. He has also been asked not to leave Mumbai and Thane without police permission.

The bail hearing is set to continue on 24 February.

Chudawala was named in the FIR on 3 February along with 50 others, under IPC Section 124A (sedition), 153B, 505 and 34, at Azad Maidan police station.

The students' union of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, had come out with a statement in support of Chudawala. Referring to a judgment by the Supreme Court, they had stated, “only raising slogans cannot constitute sedition unless there is an implicit threat of violence.”

The college added that in the same Pride gathering, Kris had also read out the Preamble of the Constitution which was witnessed by everyone present at Azad Maidan, thereby “negating all claims of them being anti-national.”

Sharjeel Imam was arrested from Bihar's Jehanabad on 28 January for allegedly making inflammatory speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia University and in Aligarh.

(With inputs from ANI)

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