Updated: October 4, 2021 5:06:42 pm
Arguing for bail in a UAPA case in connection with the northeast Delhi riots, JNU student Sharjeel Imam’s lawyer told a city court on Monday that his prosecution was more of an example of a “whip of a monarch rather than a government established by law”.
Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, appearing before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, wrapped up his arguments on Monday while seeking Imam’s bail and subsequent discharge. The court has asked both the prosecution and defence to file written submissions in connection with the case.
Mir had begun his arguments by submitting that there were many prosecutions against Imam just because he had criticised the government’s policies. “Sharjeel Imam is not a terrorist and not a part of a criminal gang. He is not there on a political agenda but on a social agenda,” Mir told the court.
Referring to the recent Bharat Bandh called by the farmers, Mir asked, “Will we call for sedition in all those cases?”
“Since when does the government need affection of the people? It’s only the monarchs and kings who need the affection of the people. We are not here to bow down before the government…This country is a democracy and stands on the principles of constitutional values. Those values we’re committed to protect today in Sharjeel Imam’s case. He cannot be allowed to be persecuted just because he’s critical of CAA or NRC,” Mir told the court.
Mir submitted that there were 20 instances in his speech where he called for peace and asked protestors to refrain from violence. He submitted that the entire case was based on “rhetoric built by TV channels” and that it was the “duty of every citizen to be critical of the government”.
“A university student who wants to study modern history of India, if he wrote his thesis on why partition took place, are we now going to lay our foundations as to what kind of research is being done in the universities? Are those the constitutional goals that we set on ourselves? Challenges will come before the society. Today Sharjeel Imam is not on test…The Bar and the Bench is on test. [The test is on] whether we will allow and give sanctity and endorse such a persecution of an innocent person,” Mir told the court.
He added, “Today, this prosecution of Sharjeel Imam is more [a case of] whip of a monarch rather than a government established by law. This is not how the government or executive have to respond. At the end of the day, dispensation will change. Nothing is permanent,” Mir submitted.
Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad began his rebuttal by stating that from what he has understood by the arguments, it was “that if the government is not listening to your contentions. it can go to any extent, even if it paralyzes the life of a common man”.
Prasad told the court that it had to read the speeches on its own to see the difference in the contents.
“In a situation which is already violent, the speech is made. The fact is that he wanted to give a secular colour when he said: ‘We should keep a bookstall with the book Why I am a Hindu by Shashi Tharoor’,” Prasad said.
The police charge-sheet had alleged that Imam had used Tharoor’s book to “put up a secular façade” in the protests against CAA and NRC.
“Immediately after his speech on 13th December, various violent incidents have taken place. Rioting took place in Jamia. Then there were the incidents in AMU on December 16 and 17. The fact that he is trying to give it a secular colour,” Prasad told the court.
Mir argued that Imam has “not incited violence…or dissatisfaction” against the state. “Dispensations, governments…have their political narratives. If those communities are on the street, we can’t say that these are not Indians that are on street and they are some aliens,” Mir submitted.
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