A student booked and charged under sections 124 A and 134 B of the Indian penal Code, 1860 IPC which enumerates sedition and disharmony among religions was granted bail by the Mumbai High Court. An FIR was filed against the student for raising voices supporting the student of Jawahar Lal Nehru (JNU) Institute Sharjeel Imam at a protest held for the LGBTQ community in Mumbai. The student, Urvashi Chaduwala is 22 years old. She is a student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) was charged with the above-mentioned sections because she raised slogans that supported Imam.
Sharjeel Imam is an Indian Activist best known for protesting heavily against Citizenship Rights Amendment Act. He was accused of sedition for his protests in 2019. Sedition Act, or section 124 A of IPC 1860 deals with the actions of defaming the government. It criminalizes such acts with the punishment of imprisonment, in some cases, for life. After the charges, fearing the arrest of police, Urvashi had filed a plea for an anticipatory bail in the High Court. She had been granted interim anticipatory bail in February 2020. The interim bail has now been made absolute by Justice NJ Jamadar. The counsel in favour of Urvashi, i.e., Advocate Vijay Hiremath contended that the basis of the entire case is a video in which Urvashi along with other students in chanting, "Sharjeel tere sapno ko hum manzil tak pahuchayenge" which loosely translates to "Sharjeel we will turn your dreams into reality". Hence, he stated that a case on sedition based on just a video should be dismissed and does not need a custodial interrogation.
The video has been sent for forensic examinations and the authorities are just waiting for the results. The court has therefore after hearing all the arguments and looking at the currently available evidence decided to make the interim anticipatory bail absolute. The court stated that, "slogans shouted, prima-facie cannot be perceived as a threat to the integrity of the Nation. In a like manner, except slogans, no material has been brought to my notice to even illustrate that, she had shared Sharjeel's alleged ideology, for which he has been charged".
The High Court held that Urvashi is a student and 22 years old, she will be available for investigation at all times. The custodial investigation will only malign her reputation in society. The court also said that "merely showing solidarity with a group of people who are exercising their opposition to the CAA and National Register of Citizens, prima-facie, may not be sufficient to believe that the applicant had caused and/or attempted to cause disaffection against the government established by law either by prior enmity between different religious groups or otherwise to create disharmony." The same allegations had also been imposed on other 51 students who were also present at the rally. The proceedings regarding their charges are still pending. The court is still awaiting further investigations in the matter and will announce the commencement of further proceedings on the matter soon.
Tags : #Sedition #CAA #Sharjeel Imam #Imam #Anticipatory Bail #LGBTQ rally #Mumbai High Court #TISS #Student protests #Absolute bail #Section 124A