SC seeks Delhi govt’s response on plea of Sharjeel Imam for clubbing of 5 FIRs

The Supreme Court Friday sought Delhi government’s reply on a plea by JNU student and anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Imam seeking clubbing of multiple FIRs levelling sedition charges against him for allegedly making inflammatory speeches.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, hearing the matter through video conferencing, sought response from the Delhi government within 10 days on Imam’s plea.

Senior advocate Siddharth Dave, appearing for Imam, said that there are five FIRs registered against him in different states in connection with two speeches given in Delhi and in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh.

The bench said that there is nothing wrong in registration of FIR by police, if they come to know about some cognizable offence.

Dave referred to the recent order of the apex court in the case of senior journalist Arnab Goswami in which court had stayed the multiple FIRs against him except for one and said that similar relief can be granted to him.

He said that FIRs are lodged against Imam in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and he has been booked under sedition charges.

Recently, Delhi Police has booked Imam under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), he said.

The bench asked Dave to serve the copy of petition on the standing counsel of Delhi government and posted the matter for further hearing after 10 days.

Imam in his plea had sought clubbing of all five FIRs lodged in different states and transferring them to Delhi for probe by a single agency.

On April 24, the top court had stayed three FIRs and 11 complaints except for one lodged in different states against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami over his alleged defamatory statements against Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi during news shows on the recent Palghar lynching incident in Maharashtra.

On January 28, Imam was arrested by Delhi Police’s crime branch from Bihar’s Jehanabad in a sedition case for allegedly making inflammatory speeches in Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh.

The PhD student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) Centre for Historical Studies has been booked on sedition and other charges after purported videos of his alleged inflammatory speeches made during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) were circulated on social media.

An FIR was registered against him by Delhi Police on January 25 under IPC sections 124 A (sedition) and 153 A (promoting or attempting to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever) among others.

“Two videos came to light, one was on December 13 at Jamia Milia Islamia and other was on January 16 at Aligarh, where it was noticed that Imam had delivered very inflammatory speeches in opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens and such comments can potentially affect religious harmony and weaken the unity and integrity of the country,” police had said.

A graduate in computer science from IIT-Mumbai, Imam had shifted to Delhi for pursuing research at the Centre for Historical Studies at the JNU.

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