Umar Khalid defends use of word ‘revolution’ in 2020 speech

Umar Khalid

Umar Khalid | Photo Credit: File photo

Former JNU student Umar Khalid, seeking bail in connection with the 2020 north-east Delhi riots case, on Friday argued before the Delhi High Court that use of the word ‘revolution’ during his speech in Amravati in February 2020 cannot be construed as a call to violence.

Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, representing Mr. Khalid, made the submission following a query posted by a Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar over certain words such as ‘inqalab’ and ‘ krantikari’ used by Khalid in his speech in Amravati.

“We all know the meaning of ‘ inqalab zindabad’. You used the expressions ‘inqalab’ and ‘krantikari’. In what context you have used ‘ inqalab’ word,” the high court asked.

To this, Mr. Pais said it means revolution, and it is not a crime to use the word.

“I used the word in my speech in the context of people standing against a discriminating law and protesting against it. By no stretch of the imagination the use of the words ‘ inqalab’, ‘krantikari’, or revolution can be termed as a crime,” the senior advocate said on behalf of his client.

“It was a call for an opposition to an unjust law. He did not call for violence. I used the word as a call to boycott an unjust law,” the senior advocate added.

The High Court which was hearing an appeal filed by Mr. Khalid challenging a trial court’s order refusing him bail in case involving Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) charges alleging a larger conspiracy in the 2020 riots.

During the hearing, as the speech delivered by Mr. Khalid on February 17, 2020, was played in the courtroom, the Bench questioned him over use of certain objectionable words against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The judges said Mr. Khalid could have used some other words for the Prime Minister.

“You could have framed it in a better way. He (Khalid) is making the statement against the Prime Minister. Some other words could have been used for the Prime Minister...,” the Bench remarked.

Mr. Pais said the words were used as a metaphor to show that the real and practical issues of the country were being hidden in reality. He said in a democratic set up various methods are used to expose what the government is doing and one such way was by use of words and speeches.

“Did Mahatma Gandhi use words like these in his speeches? He is, again and again, saying that we will follow Mahatma Gandhiji,” the High Court countered.

Mr. 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 north-east Delhi riots.

He sought bail on the ground that he was not present when the violence broke out and that no money was recovered from him, and the case is based on cooked-up statements.

The High Court will continue hearing argument on his bail plea on May 23.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2022 9:58:50 am |