Declining to pass any immediate order on their plea for “safe surrender” and indicating that it will take up the matter in detail Wednesday, the Delhi High Court Tuesday suggested that JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, wanted by police in connection with raising of alleged anti-national slogans on the campus, surrender and “follow due procedure”.
Justice Pratibha Rani, while declining to pass any order for “interim protection”, mentioned that the trial court would be looking into the matter of police remand, and that a person arrested by police had to produced before the trial court within 24 hours.
Khalid and Bhattacharya had moved petitions seeking permission to surrender before the High Court and “safe passage” from the JNU campus to the court premises, alleging there was “threat to life and limb”.
They referred to the attacks last week on journalists and JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested for sedition, at the Patiala House Courts by lawyers and others. They said they feared they would be attacked if they were taken to the Patiala House Courts, that they were “more vulnerable to unprovoked attacks from a frenzied public than Kanhaiya Kumar”.
Justice Pratibha Rani, who refused to allow arguments from lawyers representing Delhi Police and Delhi government, asked the counsel for the JNU students to write down a name and place for their surrender. She also asked the petitioners to indicate which lawyers would accompany them during the surrender process.
DCP (South) Prem Nath, who was present in the courtroom, objected to submissions made by the lawyers of the students. The judge then called the DCP and one of the lawyers to her chamber for a closed hearing.
During the hearing, advocate Kamini Jaiswal, who appeared for the JNU students, told the bench that the students had to file a surrender application due to the “exceptional circumstances” that had been created. She pointed out that Kanhaiya Kumar had been beaten up in court while in police custody, and that sting operations shown in the media had indicated that a section of lawyers was “ready to attack” the other students. She argued for “permission for peaceful surrender before the Delhi High Court.”
The surrender pleas were taken up by the High Court after 4 pm under heavy police deployment outside. Entry into the courtroom was restricted and only a handful of reporters and lawyers were allowed to enter.