The Delhi High Court on Friday, 22 April, verbally remarked that activist Umar Khalid's 2020 speech at Amravati, which finds a mention in the First Information Report (FIR) filed against him in the North East Delhi riots case, is prima facie 'not acceptable'.
The court added that the speech was offensive, obnoxious, and hateful, LiveLaw reported.
The observations came as a division bench consisting of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar issued notice on Khalid's appeal against the rejection of his bail plea by a lower court.
Hearing relevant portions of his speech in the court, the bench remarked,
"This is offensive, obnoxious. Don’t you think? You say things like aapke purvaj angrezun ki dalali kar rahe the, you don’t think it is offensive? It is almost as if we distinctly get the impression that it was only one particular community that fought for India's independence."Delhi HC, as per The Indian Express
"Did Gandhiji ever employ this language? Did Shaheed Bhagat Singh ever employ such language? We have no qualms about permitting free speech but what are you saying?" the court said further.
Appearing for Khalid, Senior Advocate Trideep Pais reportedly submitted that the speech only reflected the opinion of a single man and there was "absolutely no incitement" due to Khalid's statements.
Meanwhile, the court questioned, "Does it not attract section 153A (enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race) or 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of Indian Penal Code?"
Saying that "everything else may be acceptable within the four corners of democracy and free speech", the bench stated that this was prima facie not acceptable.
The matter has now been listed for further hearing on 27 April.
On 24 March, a Delhi court had rejected Khalid's bail plea in connection with the Delhi riots 'larger conspiracy' case, registered under FIR 59/2020.
The court, in its order, included the observation that Khalid's name "finds a recurring mention" from the beginning of the conspiracy till the riots and that "he has connectivity with many accused persons," among reasons for the dismissal.
Khalid, an activist and a former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, was arrested on 14 September 2020 in connection with the case. He has been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as well as other Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
(With inputs from LiveLaw and The Indian Express.)
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