Sharjeel Imam, a JNU scholar-activist, who has been in jail since January 2020 has approached Delhi High Court after the Supreme Court put the use of sedition law on hold. He was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act during the anti-CAA agitation.
According to the Delhi Police, Imam is among a dozen of activists who were allegedly involved in the conspiracy linked to the Delhi riots 2020. He is seeking interim bail in the case of allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches at Aligarh Muslim University and in the Jamia area in Delhi during the anti-CAA gatherings in 2019 and 2020. Police allege that his speeches fuelled the riots of February 2020.
The new plea noted that he has been incarcerated for nearly 28 months since January 28, 2020, whereas the maximum punishment for the offences is punishable up to a maximum of 7 years of imprisonment. This does not include the sedition law (Section 124-A of the IPC)
A division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar will hear his plea on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court in a historic move put a pause on the use of sedition law while it assesses its validity. The court had pointed out the law was used by the British to silence freedom fighters.
The top court is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the law. Section 124A apprehends those who are found guilty for attempts to incite hatred, contempt, or disaffection towards the government using words, either written or spoken.
Several petitioners including journalists Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha from Manipur and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla from Chhattisgarh; private media houses from Andhra Pradesh Shreya and Aamoda; retired Major General S.G. Vombatkere; Editors Guild of India; former Union minister Arun Shourie; NGO Common Cause; human rights body People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL); Journalist Anil Chamadia amongst others are questioning the constitutionality of sedition law.