November 1, 2021 1:48:58 am
THE BOMBAY High Court this week confirmed the anticipatory bail plea of a 23-year-old trans person booked on charges of sedition for raising an ‘objectionable’ slogan at a gathering at Azad Maidan last year. The high court had last year granted interim relief to the 23-year-old, which was made absolute by the single bench of Justice N J Jamadar on Saturday.
“In the backdrop of the nature of accusation, and the reasons ascribed by this court, while granting interim relief, which govern the determination of the application finally as well, at this length of time, the custodial interrogation of the applicant does not seem warranted for investigation,” the court said.
In February last year, the Azad Maidan police had named over 50 persons in an FIR on charges including sedition alleging that the slogan “Sharjeel tere sapno ko, hum manzil tak pahunchaenge”, was raised during the gathering.
It was in reference to activist Sharjeel Imam booked for sedition last year in Delhi for alleged inflammatory speeches during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.
The Azad Maidan police claimed that the 23-year-old had participated in a gathering of persons supporting the cause of the LGBTQI community on February 1 at Azad Maidan and raised objectionable slogans.
While granting him bail last year, the high court had said that prima facie the slogans were raised to exhibit solidarity with others who had been exercising their fundamental right to dissent.
The court had said then that merely showing solidarity with a person or group who are exercising their opposition to CAA and NRC may not be sufficient to charge a person with charges of causing disaffection against the government and mere slogans shouted prima facie cannot be perceived as threat to the integrity of the nation.
During the hearing on the anticipatory bail application filed by lawyer Vijay Hiremath on the 23-year-old’s behalf, the prosecutor told the court that the investigation had reached an ‘advanced stage’ and only forensic reports are awaited. The high court has set conditions including that the applicant shall attend court regularly after chargesheet is lodged, appear before the investigating officer as and when directed and not leave the country without prior permission of the court.
Last month, a sessions court had confirmed the anticipatory bail plea of two others also booked in the same case. The court had said that the police had nowhere indicated their active roles on offences they have been charged with. All three were students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences at that time.
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