In view of the upcoming hearing before the Supreme Court on the constitutional validity of the sedition law, the Delhi High Court on Friday deferred till May 6 the bail plea hearing of former JNU student Umar Khalid in connection with the 2020 north-east Delhi riots case.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar also sought the Delhi police’s stand on Sharjeel Imam’s bail application in the 2020 riots case.
The High Court said it will hear both cases of Khalid and Imam after the top court considers the issue of the validity of the Indian Penal Code’s section 124A (sedition) on May 5.
Senior counsel Trideep Pais, appearing for Khalid, submitted that the top court was not likely to conclude hearing the constitutional validity of the law of sedition on a single day. Mr. Pais said Khalid’s bail proceedings were not limited to sedition but concerned provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
“Anything that may have a bearing, however remote, we should wait (for it). Like you said, the outcome is going to be seminal,” the High Court replied.
The High Court also listed for hearing on May 6 another bail plea by Imam in a separate case against him for alleged inflammatory speeches during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Khalid, arrested on September 13, 2020, is facing charges under the anti-terror law UAPA for allegedly being one of the ‘masterminds’ and one of the main conspirators as well as instigators behind the riots that happened in north-east Delhi in 2020. Apart from Khalid, Imam and several others have been booked under the UAPA in connection with the riots, which had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
Earlier this week, the city police opposed the bail plea of Khalid saying that the narratives sought to be created by him cannot be looked into as his defence at this stage. In its response to Khalid’s bail plea, the Delhi police added that the trial court had “rightly dismissed” Khalid’s plea for release by a “well-reasoned order”.
On March 24, a trial court had denied bail to Khalid, saying there were reasonable grounds to believe that the accusations against him were prima facie true. Khalid has challenged before the High Court the rejection of his bail application by the trial court.
Delhi Police claimed that the role played by different entities, WhatsApp groups and individuals in pursuance to the conspiracy behind the 2020 riots would be clearly demonstrated by the trial court orders, rejecting bail to the other co-accused in the case.