“Freedom of expression is not at the cost of community harmony”: Imam’s bail request rejected | Latest India News
The “fundamental right to freedom of expression and expression cannot be exercised at the expense of community peace and the harmony of society,” a Delhi court said on Friday, which denied bail in Sharjeel. Imam, a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), for allegedly giving a seditious speech. to Jamia Nagar in 2019 during a demonstration against the amended citizenship law.
On December 13, 2019, the imam allegedly gave a provocative speech which police said rioted two days later when a crowd of more than 3,000 attacked police officers and set fire to several vehicles in the Jamia area. Nagar, south of Delhi.
The prosecution argued that the Imam gave provocative speeches on December 13 and 15, 2019 and January 16, 2020, leading to riots in several locations.
The case in which his bail application was denied on Friday concerned the December 13 speech, which allegedly incited a religious community against the government by creating unfounded fears in their minds regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or the CAA and the National Registry of Citizens (CNRC).
In a 10-page ordinance, Extra Sessions Judge Anuj Aggarwal said that a “sketchy” and “simple” reading of the speech revealed that it was “clearly” on communal and conflicting lines.
“In my opinion, the tone and tenor of the inflammatory speech tends to have a debilitating effect on the public tranquility, peace and harmony of society … given the content of the speech of December 13, 2019 which tends to have a debilitating effect. on community peace and harmony, I am not inclined to give bail to plaintiff / accused Sharjeel Imam at this point. The accused cannot claim any parity with the co-accused because his role is entirely different from that of the other co-accused. Accordingly, the present application made on behalf of the plaintiff / accused Sharjeel Imam for the granting of due bail is dismissed, ”the judge said in his order.
Quoting a phrase from 17th century British poet John Milton, the court said the fundamental right to “freedom of speech and expression” had been placed on a very high pedestal in the Indian Constitution. However, she added that the Constitution also imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of this right, in particular for reasons of public order and incitement to crime.
The court noted, however, that the prosecution had given scarce and fragmentary evidence to support the allegations that the rioters were incited by the imam’s speech and then engaged in acts of riot, mischief. and attack on the police party.
The judge said the prosecution had cited no eyewitness testimony and there was no evidence on file to suggest that the co-accused were “instigated” and revolted after hearing the imam’s speech.
The court also said that the investigative agency’s theory left “gaping holes,” which presents an incomplete picture, unless the gaps are filled by “resorting to guesswork” or relying on disclosure statements from the imam and the co-defendants.
While denying bail to the imam, the court also cited Indian spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda.