The Delhi High Court has instructed a trial court to first consider former JNU student Sharjeel Imam’s application for relief under Section 436-A CrPC on the grounds that he has been in custody for 31 months following a 2019 sedition FIR, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive to keep sedition cases on hold.
According to Section 436-A, a person might well be released on bail by the court after serving a sentence of up to one-half the maximum allowed for the offence against him up until the end of the trial.
Imam claims that because he has been imprisoned for more than a year and a half since his arrest in February 2020 and has served more than half of the maximum sentence of three years under Section 153A (promoting hostility among religious groups), he is entitled to the advantage of being released.
A speech that Imam delivered at Jamia Millia Islamia in 2019 is the subject of a charge against him that was filed at the New Friends Colony (NFC) Police station.
Justice Anoop Mendiratta asked the trial court to consider the Supreme Court’s order keeping the offence of sedition in abeyance when deciding whether to grant the applicant’s request for default bail on Monday (September 26), while permitting him to withdraw his application for regular bail in a 2019 sedition case.
Appearing for Imam, his counsel Ahmad Ibrahim told the judge that the trial court, while dismissing his bail plea, had only made observations against him with respect to offences under Section 153A and 124A (sedition) and opined that no case was made out under other offences.
The counsel argued that the only offence which now warrants consideration of the trial court during the hearing of bail plea is Section 153A as offence of sedition has been kept abeyance.
Special public prosecutor Amit Prasad told the court that Imam’s bail plea pending before High Court may be withdrawn in entirety, as it may not be appropriate to consider the application under Section 436A CrPC in a piecemeal with reference to Section 153A of IPC.