The remarks made by the Delhi High Court while denying bail to UAPA accused Umar Khalid will not prejudice co-accused Sharjeel Imam’s case. This was clarified by the apex court on Friday, 9 December.
Considering Imam’s plea seeking expunging of the remarks made against him in Khalid’s order, and for his own bail plea to be heard independently, an apex court bench of Justices SK Kaul and AS Oka said:
“We clarify that any observations made in respect of the role of the petitioner in the impugned order will not prejudice the petitioner in any manner.”
Why is this important? This is important because the Delhi High Court had made elaborate observations against Imam in their order refusing bail to Khalid in the Delhi Riots ‘larger conspiracy' case. These included a reference to Imam as being ‘arguably…at the head of the conspiracy’, with whom Khalid was in touch. This becomes even more significant, considering that the same bench of the Delhi High Court is also presently hearing Imam’s bail plea.
What did Imam tell the apex court? Imam, in his special leave petition, pointed out that these observations by the High Court were made without according him an opportunity to be heard. This, he argued, is violative of principles of natural justice.
Given that these observations touch upon the merits of the case against him, and that his own bail plea is pending at the High Court, the remarks in Khalid’s order could cause prejudice to his own plea.
Underlining some of the remarks made by the High Court, the petition further says that those remarks are not borne out of the record. Instead, “they are ex-facie contradictory and even go beyond the allegations contained in the chargesheet.”
More about Sharjeel Imam: A scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Imam was arrested in January 2020 after he was said to have delivered an allegedly inflammatory speech during the anti-CAA protests. Thereby, in November 2020, he was named an accused in the Delhi Riots ‘larger conspiracy’ case, via a supplementary chargesheet. He has already spent over a thousand days in jail.