[Sedition Case] “Keep the powder dry; We'll hear you”: Delhi High Court posts Sharjeel Imam’s bail plea for hearing on July 7

Read Time: 08 minutes


Imam has been under the scanner for offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, sedition, and promoting enmity between groups, among others since the Anti-CAA/ NRC Protests.

Noting that there is no urgency in the matter, a division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that it will hear the bail plea filed by Sharjeel Imam in connection with the northeast Delhi Riots 2020 case, involving an allegation of sedition on July 7.

During the hearing today, the counsel for Sharjeel Imam contended, "There are two appeals listed before your lordships today, one is Criminal Appeal 94/2022 which challenges the order of the learned Special Court, whereby my first regular bail matter was dismissed".

"This is a case where the escalated bail jurisprudence as provisioned under 43D is not attracted. This is governed by normal bail jurisprudence, the offences are u/S. 124A, 153A, 153B, 505(2) of IPC and Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act", he added.

Justice Mridul asked, "Where is the urgency today? Tell me. We are asking you a simple question, What is the urgency, today? Where is the other appeal that is pending for 6 months. You haven't argued it."

Counsel replied, "Lordship, I am pressing my bail application on two grounds...I bow down, My lord! No urgency, My Lord, but I wanted to point out just two things..."

Justice Mridul said, "We'll hear everything you have to say but what is the urgency today? Assuming we're to allow these bail applications, will you be enlarged on bail?? Will you? Where is the other appeal listed? On the same day, we'll hear it all together. That appeal is an offshoot of this?"

The counsel replied, "Not really. So what happens is that all my overt acts which form part of the basis of my prosecution in S.59, these are the same overt acts. In my appeals today, I am not on the merits of the case, because of the fact My Lord! Just to point out two things ..."

Justice Mridul said, "That's what we're saying, in a manner they are interconnected. You're saying that this application does not invite the rigor of the provision of 43D (5) and therefore only the triple test will apply and therefore if you're able to satisfy this court on 'Triple Test', I should be enlarged on bail. Tell us it in July...now don't take up so much time, because there are other matters where there is urgency".

"Mr. Counsel, you'll have to tell this again to the new bench in July because then I won't be there", Justice Singh, who's retiring this week, added.

"Keep the powder dry. We'll hear you", Justice Mridul remarked.

Accordingly, the court ordered, "Re-notify on July 7, along with the other appeal".

Imam's plea challenges the trial court order of January 24, 2022, denying bail to Imam in the sedition case.

Notably, on January 30, the court had sought Delhi Police’s stand as to whether Imam's plea for bail could be remanded back to the trial court for adjudication as there was no ground mentioned in the lower court's order rejecting the relief.

Earlier, in July 2022, Imam had moved two pleas seeking a stay on trial in a sedition case and a grant of interim bail in the case. His pleas had been dismissed by the trial court in light of the Supreme Court’s order dated 11th May 2022 in S.G. Vombatkere v. Union of India whereby Section 124A of the IPC had been put on hold.

Trial Court Order:

In July 2022, Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Amitabh Rawat rejected Imam's bail plea stating that the charges framed against Imam had already been considered and rejected by the court vide order dated 24th January 2022 whereby the court had considered all the merits of the case and the applicability of Sections 124A, 153A, 153B, 505 of IPC and Section 13 of UAPA.

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

Statue: The Indian Penal Code; The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act