A Delhi court on Saturday discharged Sharjeel Imam in a case related to the violence that took place at Jamia Millia Islamia in December 2019.
Additional Sessions Judge Arul Verma of the Saket courts also discharged Asif Iqbal Tanha in the same case.
Police had registered an FIR under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including rioting, in connection with the communal violence that erupted after a clash between police and people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Last year, the trial court had ordered the framing of charges against Imam under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity), l53B (Imputations prejudicial to national integration), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) of IPC, and Section 13 (Punishment for Unlawful Activities) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
As per the prosecution, Imam had allegedly made speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at the Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, where he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the Northeast from India.
The court discharged the duo, but framed the charges of unlawful assembly and rioting against one Mohammed Iliyas.
A detailed order is awaited.
Despite discharge in the present case, Imam will continue to remain in jail, since he is also an accused in the Delhi Riots conspiracy case and some other FIRs.
UAPA: Lawyers Challenge Sections Defining ‘Unlawful Activities’ as Vague
The UAPA has been used routinely to harass and imprison people raising dissenting voices, including last year when raided the homes of various human rights activists across the country. A notable case was that of Delhi University professor, GN Saibaba, who, owing to his deteriorating health and weak physical condition, is wheelchair-bound, 90% disabled, and is physically suffering in prison.
Arbitrary use of anti-terror laws has usually been counter-productive. For example, in the case of POTA, only 13 people were convicted in the 4,349 cases it covered. Arbitrary anti-terror laws usually lead to the flawed and uncertain procedure, which often backfire in preventing violent activities and create an unending sense of undeclared war reminiscent of the emergency.