After the Supreme Court stopped short of hearing the bail petition of JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested in a sedition case, and transferred his plea to the Delhi High Court on Friday, his lawyers rushed to the High Court, where the hearing did not take place because of some technical glitches.
Though a Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre agreed that repeated mob violence on the court premises against Mr. Kumar was “unusual and extraordinary”, it observed that his lawyers, by seeking bail directly from the Supreme Court, were offering a “very dangerous proposition” that could become a precedent for other accused.
The Supreme Court ordered the Centre and the police to provide special security arrangements at the High Court hearing for Mr. Kumar.
A metropolitan magistrate court refused to grant bail to the former Delhi University lecturer, S.A.R. Geelani, in the sedition case connected with a function on February 10.
Threat is real, but try High Court first: SC
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed with Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, that repeated mob violence on court premises against him was “unusual and extraordinary”, but stopped short of hearing his bail petition barely 24 hours after listing the case at the top of the day’s work chart.
Instead, a Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre transferred the petition to the Delhi High Court to be heard expeditiously. The court ordered the Centre and the police to provide special security arrangements, with the entry to the High Court regulated by the Registrar-General of the latter.
On transferring the petition, Justice Chelameswar said: “I personally believe we would end up showing that courts other than the Supreme Court are incapable of handling this situation.”
Mr. Kumar, now lodged in the Tihar jail on a 14-day remand, moved the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution seeking protection of his life and liberty.
On Thursday, the Bench posted the petition for the next day as a “citizen has come saying that his fundamental rights are under threat.”
On Friday, the first question the Bench shot at Mr. Kumar’s counsel and senior advocate, Raju Ramachandran, was why they had “rushed into this.” “Did you move a bail application before the magistrate court,” Justice Chelameswar asked.
Mr. Ramachandran explained that the “legal profession in Delhi is agitated” and it was “impractical, unsafe and dangerous” to return to the Patiala House courts.
Justice Chelameswar agreed that doing so was out of the question, but asked what had prevented them from moving the Delhi High Court.
“The High Court is near the same hexagon from the Patiala House courts at India Gate ... there is a simmering local situation,” Mr. Ramachandran replied.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan said the High Court was just a “1,000 yards from where the crow flies” from Patiala House.
Mr. Ramachandran argued that the Supreme Court would better understand the dire circumstances as it was already inquiring into the violence.
Senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, also for Mr. Kumar, said all that the court had to see was whether the apprehension to the life of the student was genuine or “fancy”.
Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar said a constitutional court like the Delhi High Court “can look after itself”.
> JNU row: What is the outrage all about?
With the Jawaharlal Nehru University issue taking several twists and turns, The Hindu takes a look at how the issue started and where.