Defer bail hearing, seeking legal advice after Umar Khalid order, Sharjeel Imam urges Delhi HC

His case, registered under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), is related to the northeast Delhi riots that left 53 people dead and over 700 injured

Sharjeel Imam
Sharjeel Imam


JNU student Sharjeel Imam on Friday urged the Delhi High Court to defer by six weeks his bail hearing in a case related to the 2020 riots in Delhi, saying he was seeking "further legal advice" following the court's observations on him while denying bail to co-accused Umar Khalid.

Imam in his "adjournment application" said the court made "certain observations" without hearing his case which made it "incumbent upon him to seek further legal advice and to explore the possibility of legal remedy before the present appeal is heard".

His case, registered under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), is related to the northeast Delhi riots that left 53 people dead and over 700 injured. The violence had erupted during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.

A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar listed on December 16 Imam's appeal challenging a trial court refusing to grant him bail while expressing its displeasure with respect to the submissions made in the application.

"To say that you are seeking legal advice in another matter cannot be a ground. It cannot be done in this manner. You can ask for an adjournment simplicitor and we may consider but do not make legal arguments and then ask us to adjourn a matter. Don't put all this on record," the high court said.

"At the specific request of the counsel for the appellant (Imam), list after six weeks on December 16," it ordered.

The court also listed for hearing on November 18 bail pleas by other co-accused in the matter, including Khalid Saifi and Meeran Haider.

While refusing to grant bail to former JNU student leader Khalid in the case on October 18, the court had observed that Imam "arguably was at the head of the conspiracy" and there existed a string of commonality running amongst all the co-accused.

Imam, Khalid and several others have been booked under the UAPA and provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly being the "masterminds" of the February 2020 riots.

In Khalid's bail order, the court had stated it was an admitted position that both he and Imam were members of the same WhatsApp group and they participated in the Jantar Mantar protest.

There are statements of various protected witnesses that speak to the presence of the duo at several meetings, including in the one held at the office of Popular Front of India, it had said.

"The appellant (Khalid) was in constant touch with other co-accused persons, including Sharjeel Imam, who arguably is at the head of the conspiracy; at this stage (of bail), it is difficult to form an opinion that there are not reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against the petitioner is prima facie not proved," the court had said.

On April 11, Special Judge Amitabh Rawat denied relief to Imam who has been charged under various sections of the IPC and the UAPA.

In his appeal, Imam has submitted that in the absence of any admissible material, the trial court wrongly found him to be a part of the conspiracy to cause riots and there is no prima facie case against him for the commission of any "terrorist act" under the stringent UAPA.

Imam has said he is a final year Ph.D. student having no prior criminal antecedents and the trial court failed to appreciate that the entire investigation is faulty and that there is no connection between his speeches and the incidents of violence.

Imam was arrested by the Delhi police as "part of a targeted campaign" against him and he was already in custody in connection with other cases when the violence broke out in northeast Delhi and had no communication with the other alleged co-conspirators, it was claimed in the plea.

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