Asking Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar to make all efforts within his power to control “anti-national activities” on the campus, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted him interim bail for six months in a sedition case registered against him in connection with a controversial event organised in the university recently.
While releasing him on bail on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs.10,000 and a surety of like amount, the Bench of Justice Pratibha Rani said the student leader would be required to give an undertaking that he would not participate actively or passively in any activity “which may be termed anti-national.”
Though the court gave relief to Mr. Kumar, who has been behind bars for over a fortnight on charges of organising and taking part in an event against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, it observed that he had the right to pursue his political affiliation or ideology “only within the framework of the Constitution.”
“India is a living example of unity in diversity. Freedom of expression enjoyed by every citizen can be subjected to reasonable restrictions under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution. The feelings or protest reflected in the slogans need introspection by the student community,” stated the 23-page order pronounced late on Wednesday evening.
High Court takes exception to slogans
While the Delhi Police, vehemently opposed JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail plea, had tried to connect him with the raising of “anti-India slogans” during the February 9 event, his counsel and senior advocate Kapil Sibal claimed that the slogans on the university campus were raised by some other people who had their faces covered.
The court took strong exception to the raising of slogans by the students holding posters of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, saying they enjoyed freedom “in the comfort of university campus” without realising that soldiers were defending the nation’s boundaries at the highest altitude of the world, where they may not be able to withstand the weather conditions even for an hour.
“The kind of slogans raised may have a demoralising effect on the families of those martyrs who returned home in coffins draped in the Tricolour,” said the Delhi High Court Bench of Justice Pratibha Rani, apparently in reference to the recent tragedy at Siachen Glacier and the terror attack at the Pathankot airbase.