A SESSIONS Court on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of a 22-year-old student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), booked on charges of sedition by Mumbai Police for allegedly raising a slogan in support of JNU student Sharjeel Imam at an LGBTQ rally at Azad Maidan on Saturday.
Urvashi Chudawala was among the 51 people against whom an FIR was filed by the Mumbai Police on Monday. According to the FIR, the slogan, “Sharjeel tere sapno ko, hum manzil tak pahuchaenge (Sharjeel, we will fulfill your dreams)”, was raised during the gathering.
Imam was arrested by the Delhi Police last month after several states filed sedition cases against him for an anti-CAA speech in which he allegedly spoke about “cutting off the Northeast from India” by blocking roads and railway tracks.
“Even though this court is not dealing with the matters of crime allegedly committed by said Sharjeel Imam, ultimately the intent of the statement uttered by applicant in support of him, in my opinion, prima facie attracts ingredients of 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code,” Additional Sessions Judge P P Rajvaidya said in his order.
While Chudawala has not been arrested yet, the court also refused to grant interim stay on its order, to allow her to file an appeal before the Bombay High Court.
“They are supporting a person who is an enemy of the country,” said Chief Public Prosecutor Jaising Desai, who also cited a post shared by Chudawala on her Facebook account, which said “Release Sharjeel Imam unconditionally”, as part of the evidence.
View From The Right: Sharjeel Mindset
“Besides the averment in the FIR, there is material in investigation papers, which prima facie supports the allegation that the applicant (Chudawala) shared the photograph of Sharjeel Imam on her Facebook account by giving like to it,” the judge said.
Chudawala’s lawyer, Vijay Hiremath, submitted that slogans referring to Dr B R Ambedkar, Rohith Vemula and Dr Payal Tadvi were raised at the event. “In the intensity of the sloganeering, certain names were added. It was not with the intention of inciting violence. To pick up one slogan made only once for two seconds cannot be said to be seditious. It was raised against Imam’s arrest, whose sedition itself is not proved yet. To say that his arrest is wrong cannot be considered sedition. She (Chudawala) has herself seen a lot of discrimination in life, being a transperson. We may disagree with what she has said, but it still does not attract sedition,” said Hiremath.
“The fear is that I (Chudawala) will be made an example for the entire city as protests are happening on various issues, to say that cases of sedition will be filed against protesters,” he said, adding that Chudawala, a TISS student, has an examination coming up in March.
The court held that it did not find any truth in Hiremath’s argument that uttering one slogan for two seconds “is not required to be considered seriously”. It held that Chudawala’s custodial interrogation was necessary, including access to her Facebook account. “The offences registered against the applicant are definitely serious in nature… the court is required to keep in mind the effect of the order on the public at large,” it said.
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