A day after violence returned to the Patiala House courts in defiance of the Supreme Court’s call for calm, the apex court on Thursday accepted that “something extraordinary is going on in this country” and agreed to hear the bail petition of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, facing sedition charges on the allegation that anti-national slogans were allegedly raised on the university campus.
“I am a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University and not some hardened criminal,” Mr. Kumar pleaded.
He is now lodged in Tihar Jail.
A Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre brushed aside objections raised in the courtroom that the court should not function like a magistrate and hear bail pleas, and posted the student leader’s case for urgent hearing on Friday.
“If a citizen comes to this court saying his fundamental rights are under threat, we have to hear him... Something extraordinary is going on in this country. No doubt about it... We will certainly examine this issue,” Justice Chelameswar responded.
Mr. Kumar moved the Supreme Court for bail and release from custody under Article 32 of the Constitution.
Bench firm on hearing
“During the Malda riots, people were raped and looted... Nobody brought it here. Recently, the Delhi High Court was locked by lawyers on strike... is that not alarming too,” R.P. Luthra, an advocate, asked the Supreme Court on Thursday when it agreed to hear the bail petition of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar.
“Alarming or not... this court will hear this petition... Everybody should remember that administration of justice is fair,” shot back Justice Chelameswar, sitting on the Bench with Abhay Manohar Sapre.
In his petition, Mr. Kumar, represented by senior advocates Soli Sorabjee and Raju Ramachandran and advocate Vrinda Grover, said he was supposed to move the magistrate court for bail on February 17, but was thwarted by the mob.
He was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. Mr. Kumar has sought bail and release from custody under Article 32 of the Constitution. Article 32 is an extraordinary judicial relief sought from the highest court when a citizen seeks protection of his fundamental rights, including his life and personal liberty.
The Delhi High Court and the lawyers’ team, which was sent by the Supreme Court to the Patiala House to take stock of the extent of violence, filed their reports in sealed covers.
Mr. Kumar argued that there has been an “exceptional and unprecedented breakdown of the justice delivery mechanism and administration of justice even after the writ of the Supreme Court.” The petition said the failure of the Delhi Police to provide security on February 15 and 17 was in violation of the fundamental rights of the student, his lawyers and journalists.