“Everybody has a fundamental freedom in subjecting any part of the Constitution to criticism or to support it. Courageous men in this country will not be slapped with sedition. This is what our solemn duty is. Sharjeel Imam’s view is not hostile,” said Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, appearing for JNU Scholar Sharjeel Imam.
Mir was seeking bail for Sharjeel Imam in a Delhi court on Monday where he explained the centrality of public critique in a democratic country.
“What society will be a society if it’s not robust or what doesn’t react. It will be a heap of sheep,” Mir added.
On August 25, the Delhi police arrested JNU scholar Sharjeel Imam in connection with the Delhi pogrom under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
For two of his speeches given on December 13 and December 16 in opposition to the discriminatory CAA and NRC, a number of FIRs were filed against him across the country in Guwhati and Aligarh.
“There is nothing in the speech which called for any kind of violence” his counsel argued in front of the Additional Session Judge Amitabh Rawat and clarified that Imam did not invoke violence rather merely expressed the harm that the CAA would do to one particular community and talked about democratic protests, none of which qualify as sedition.
“Fundamentally the right to protest, bring the country to a standstill is not at any point in time equal to an act of sedition. We went together through the contents of the speech. The petitioner at no point of time has said that you should resort to violence,” Mir told the court.
“In terms of settled principle of law, the speech has to be looked up in its entirety. Per se a protest against NRC CAA, by no stretch of imagination in a democracy that we have in India, can be termed seditious,” Mir said and emphasised that Imam is not associated with any banned organisation as claimed by the police.
Mir said that Sharjeel Imam as a scholar was engaged in an intellectual debate during his speech at AMU and he can’t be charged under sedition for opposing the views of the government.
Mir told the court that it does not make a difference and that they have to see where the speech was given. “Whether the speech is given… where people were carrying sword or where there’s an intellectual debate between students of a university,” Mir said.