On 22nd May, 2020, The Gauhati High Court granted statutory bail to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, Sharjeel Imam. This bail came as a sign of relief, three months after his arrest in February, 2020.
Who is Sharjeel Imam?
Sharjeel Imam is a former student at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. Being one of the main protestors in recent times, Delhi Police arrested Sharjeel Imam for alleged inflammatory speeches during anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests from Bihar’s Jehanabad district on January 20th, 2020.
Sharjeel Imam is under trial for a series of cases lodged in different states of the country. The ruling party spokesperson, Sambit Patra also alleges him to be an “instigator” during the Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Milia Islamia University protests. All cases against Sharjeel refer to his speech about “cutting-off” Assam and making it impossible for the Indian Armed Forces to reach the North East. Further, he spoke on the state of Muslims and how people are being put in detention camps in Assam. As per the chargesheet, Delhi Police contends that instigation of communal hatred is Sharjeel’s motive behind such speeches.
Transfer to Assam
On 20th February, 2020, Sharjeel was brought to Guwahati by Assam Police. A team of crime brach, Assam Police, filed a case of criminal conspiracy along with sedition under the stringent Unlawful Activites (Prevention) Act (UAPA). On the day of Sharjeel’s arrival, the team presented him before the chief judicial magistrate court which remanded him to four-days long police custody.
The Assam Police is investigating into the links that Sharjeel shares with the state. The Police are looking into his past travel to the state along with any circumstances arising out this alleged conspiracy.
The Statutory Bail
On 22nd May, 2020, Gauhati High Court granted statutory bail to Sharjeel in the case against him, instituted in Assam. However, this bail does not imply his immediate freedom from the cage of iron bars as there are a number of cases registered against him in different parts of the country.
Moreover, The Delhi Patiala House Court denied Sharjeel’s bail application on 25.04.2020. The bail application stated, “Within 90 days of arrest, the investigation was not concluded, and the accused has indefeasible right to be released on bail.”
This Statutory Bail came as a result of the police failing to file a charge-sheet within a period of 90 days, as prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The 90-day period ended on 27.04.2020.
This order of the Gauhati High Court came as a win for Sharjeel. However, this does not grant him the freedom he requires. Various cases remain pending against him and investigation is ongoing.
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