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Supreme Court seeks three States’ response to Sharjeel Imam’s plea challenging FIRs

Sharjeel Imam

Sharjeel Imam  

The Supreme Court on Friday gave Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh time to respond to a plea by anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) activist Sharjeel Imam challenging FIRs registered against him in five States under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Mr. Imam, represented by senior advocate Siddharth Dave, said the FIRs were the products of a politically coloured ruse to silence his right to dissent.

A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan gave the three States two weeks to file their response and posted the case after three weeks.

Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have already filed their counter-affidavits in the case.

Mr. Imam has urged the apex court to transfer the cases to Delhi.

Watch | Who is Sharjeel Imam and why is he charged with sedition?

Mr. Dave has referred to how the apex court had intervened in the case of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami ‘with alacrity’. Mr. Goswami too faced multiple FIRs for allegedly making communal comments on his show. The court, in a recent judgment, quashed all the FIRs except the one that was transferred from Nagpur to Mumbai. Mr. Dave sought parity for Mr. Imam, who is lodged in a Guwahati jail.

But Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had argued that the FIRs registered in Mr. Goswami's case were carbon copies of each other. They were identical. In Mr. Imam’s case, the FIRs were varied and facts and circumstances differed in each of them. Drawing parity in the cases of both men would be a stretch.

Early in May, the court asked the Delhi government to respond to Mr. Imam’s plea to club the five sedition cases registered against him in different States and to have them investigated by a single agency.

At the time the court orally remarked that there was nothing wrong in registration of an FIR if police had information about a cognisable offence.

Mr. Imam was arrested by the Delhi Police’s crime branch on January 28 from Jehanabad in Bihar for allegedly making inflammatory speeches in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh. Videos, purportedly of him making inflammatory speeches during protests against the CAA, were circulated on social media.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 9:02:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-seeks-3-states-response-to-imams-plea-challenging-firs/article31871097.ece

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