High Court seeks Delhi Police’s stand on Sharjeel Imam’s plea to quash 1st supplementary chargesheet on charges of sedition

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Sharjeel Imam has stated that there cannot be ‘two parallel FIRs’ in relation to the same incident the speech he delivered on December 13, 2019, at Jamia Millia University. 

The Delhi High Court on Friday sought Delhi Police’s stand on Sharjeel Imam’s plea seeking direction to quash the first supplementary chargesheet in the 2019 Jamia violence case with respect to sedition charges against him over a speech he made at Jamia Millia Islamia University.

The bench of Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar issued notice to the Delhi Police and sought a status report from it on the plea. Accordingly, the court posted the matter for further consideration on October 18.

Sharjeel Imam has stated that there cannot be ‘two parallel FIRs’ in relation to the same incident— the speech he delivered on December 13, 2019, at Jamia Millia University. Imam has also sought directions to the trial court to proceed with the trial with respect to all other offences, including, rioting, obstructing a public servant in the discharge of public functions, etc, in FIR 242/2019 without any further delay.

An FIR was registered against Imam under provisions related to sedition and promoting enmity between groups under the Indian Penal Code at New Friends Colony police station in 2019. Imam has challenged the first supplementary chargesheet in the matter and sought quashing of the April 16, 2020 chargesheet against him as he is being prosecuted by the Special Judge for the same speech.

“The act of the respondent to import the speech in question from the specific FIR registered for the same (FIR No. 22 of 2020) and make it the subject matter of the present prosecution knowing fully well that the petitioner is already being prosecuted for the same speech before the special court constituted under Section 22 of the NIA Act, 2008 is nothing but a classic case of abuse of the statutory power of investigation and therefore, the import and the consequent addition of impugned charges must be set aside,” the plea stated.

The plea also stated that the Supreme Court had on May 11, 2022, in ‘S.G. Vombatkare v. Union of India’, stayed all the proceedings emanating from the offence of sedition (Section 124A) but has very categorically also provided that the trial in respect to all the other offences can very well be proceeded with without any further delay if the same does not cause any prejudice to the accused.

The plea further stated that no sanction has been taken till date by the appropriate government to prosecute Imam under sections 124A and 153A in FIR 242/2019, and consequently, no cognizance has been taken by the trial court for these two offences.

“And for this reason alone the ld trial court for the last one and a half years has not progressed with the trial in FIR No. 242/2019 of the petitioner and also all the other co-accused persons for the offences which the court had already taken cognizance of. The same is in complete defiance of the fundamental right of the petitioner to fair and speedy trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the plea added.

Imam is currently under judicial custody in various cases registered against him during the 2020 North-East Delhi riots, including the larger conspiracy cases under UAPA charges.

Case Title: Sharjeel Imam v. State Govt of NCT of Delhi