A Delhi Court on Friday, 30 September, granted bail to JNU student Sharjeel Imam in a sedition case that had been registered against him in connection with his speech against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Additional Sessions Judge Anuj Agrawal, in his order, instructed that Imam is “admitted to bail on furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs. 30,000/- with one surety of like amount…”
This, however, is subject to the condition that Imam, once released, shall always remain available on a working mobile number and shall intimate the concerned IO about change of address, if any.
Sharjeel Imam, however, will still not be released from jail just yet. Why? And before we get into that on what grounds was he granted bail in this case?
WHY IMAM GOT BAIL
Effectively, Imam was granted bail owing to the following three factors:
The same court had previously held that the several sections (of the IPC, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Arms Act) under which Imam had been booked in this case did not really apply. Amid other observations, the court noted: "...after going through the record, I am of the prima facie view that the evidence in support of the allegations (rioters got instigated by the speech dated 13.12.2019 of applicant/accused and thereafter they indulged in the acts of rioting, mischief, attacking the police party etc), is scanty and sketchy." Thus, as per the court, Imam could only be adjudicated under two sections – 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc) and 124A (Sedition) of the IPC
The Supreme Court, via an order dated 11 May 2022, kept 124A IPC ie the sedition law in abeyance. This means that only 153A IPC remained to be considered against Imam in the present case
If convicted under 153A IPC, Imam could be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. Imam, however, had already been in custody for more than 31 months, having been arrested on 17 February 2020 in connection with this case. According to 436A CrPC, an under-trial shall be released on bail if he has undergone “detention for a period extending up to one-half of the maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence”
In the order granting bail to Imam, the ASJ said:
“Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the present case, considering the submissions made at Bar, in view of the directions of Hon'ble Apex Court in S.G. Vombatkare (Supra) and keeping in view the earlier order dated 22.10.2021 of this court, I am of the considered view that the case of applicant/accused is covered under section 436A CrPC and therefore instant application deserves to be allowed.”
DOES THIS MEAN IMAM WILL BE RELEASED NOW?
No. Imam is yet to get bail in the Delhi riots conspiracy case, in which he has been booked under the UAPA. Thus, he will remain incarcerated until he is granted bail in that case.