The Supreme Court on Friday sought Delhi government’s response over a petition filed by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam to get all FIRs against him clubbed and probed by a single agency. The apex court has asks the state government to reply within 10 days.
Sharjeel’s counsel, senior advocate Siddharth Dave, contended before a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna that five FIRs have been registered based on the same speech in Delhi, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Moreover, the Delhi police have also invoked stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against Sharjeel, who was arrested for allegedly giving a seditious speech and abetting violence at Jamia Millia Islamia in December 2019.
Dave sought clubbing of FIRs and cited relief given by the top court in the matter of Arnab Goswami. “Give me relief like Arnab Goswami”, submitted Sharjeel’s counsel seeking clubbing of FIRs.
The apex court had stayed numerous FIRs against Goswami in different states for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Sonia Gandhi. The court allowed the probe in one FIR by Mumbai police.
“There is nothing wrong in police registering FIRs. If they come to know about some cognizable offence,” said the bench and queried whether there is a counsel representing Delhi government. The court fixed the matter for further hearing after 10 days.
The court asked Sharjeel’s lawyer to serve a copy of the petition to the Delhi government, and sought its reply on the matter.
Earlier, Imam had been named as an “instigator” by the Delhi Police in its chargesheet on violent protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 15, last year near Delhi’s Jamia Nagar.
Violence erupted following a clash between police and JMI students who were protesting. As many as 14 buses were burnt and 20 private vehicles were torched in the violence. Police used batons and teargas and were seen chasing protesters through the streets, leaving nearly 60 people including students, cops and fire fighters injured.
Sharjeel was slapped with a sedition case by the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police in January, after his alleged speeches went viral on the social media wherein he was heard speaking about Assam’s possible secession from the country in the wake of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
Imam was arrested from Jehanabad in Bihar on January 28, days after he managed to outwit the Delhi Police which had launched a massive manhunt to nab him for allegedly making the controversial “cut off Assam” statement, leading to sedition charges.
On April 18, the Delhi Police had filed a supplementary chargesheet against him.
“On December 15 last year, serious riots had broken out in consequence of the protest march organized by Jamia students against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) in the area of PS New Friends Colony and Jamia. The mob indulged in large scale rioting, stone-pelting and arson, and in the process destroyed many public and private properties. Cases of rioting, arson and damage to public properties were registered in both the police stations. Many policemen and public persons were injured in the riots,” the Delhi Police had said in a statement.
A graduate in computer science from IIT-Mumbai, Sharjeel Imam had shifted to Delhi for pursuing research at the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU.