Delhi riots: SC adjourns Umar Khalid bail plea; to be heard after 4 weeks

Sibal requested the judges to hear the case after four weeks and by then his case in front of the Constitution bench (article 370 case) would be over

Former JNU student Umar Khalid (Photo: National Herald archives)
Former JNU student Umar Khalid (Photo: National Herald archives)
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Ashlin Mathew

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted leave in the bail plea by former JNU student Umar Khalid in the case lodged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act over his alleged involvement in the larger conspiracy behind the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020. The case will be heard after four weeks.

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi said the matter required a detailed hearing. "We will have to go document by document. You file documents on what evidence is available with regard to the charges. We will grant leave and fix it after two to three weeks," the bench told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Khalid.

Sibal requested the judges to then hear the case after four weeks and by then his case in front of the Constitution bench (article 370 case) would be over. "We have given the pages and everything. Besides the evidence, our submission is Sections 16, 17, and 18 do not apply at all."

"We will have to verify that on the basis of the evidence," said Justice Bose, before directing the matter to be relisted after four weeks. As bench directed the registry to provide a specific date after four weeks, the matter is likely to be heard mid-October.

This bench is hearing the case after Justice Prashant Mishra from the earlier bench recused himself from the case in the first week of August. Mishra was on the bench along with Justice AS Bopanna.

Justice Trivedi was one of the judges on the bench along with Justice MR Shah which suspended the Bombay High Court order discharging wheelchair-bound former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba in a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged Maoist links.

Khalid had been arrested on 13 September 2020 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged involvement in the riots which broke out in February 2020 in the national capital. He has been accused for being allegedly being one of the “key conspirators” in the northeast Delhi riots.

The Delhi Police has accused Umar Khalid in the conspiracy case related to the communal riots which broke out in north-east Delhi in February 2020. The FIR against Umar Khalid contains charges including Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act and Section 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act,1984.


He had filed the special leave petition in the apex court challenging the Delhi High Court decision to deny him bail last year. A notice was issued by the Supreme Court in the case on May 18 and the case came up for hearing on July 12 and July 24; both the times the case was adjourned. On July 12, Delhi police sought adjournment to file an affidavit against the bail and on July 24, Khalid’s lawyers sought adjournment as several of his advocates on record had taken ill.

What led to Umar’s arrest?

The trial court pointed out that the call to revolution in Khalid's February 2020 Amravati speech may affect many beyond those who were visibly present. The prosecution had used to underline that Khalid had called for a 'revolution'.

"This court is of the view that possibly, if the appellant had referred to Maximilien Robespierre for what he meant by revolution, he must have also known what revolution meant for our freedom fighter and first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He believed that democracy has made revolution superfluous after independence and how it meant the complete opposite of a bloodless change," the high court had said. The court had decided to consider it as an incitement to violence.

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Published: 12 Sep 2023, 1:46 PM
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