Criticism of govt not sedition, says counsel of Umar, Anirban

Delhi court reserved its order on the bail pleas of JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban till March 18.

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday reserved its order for March 18 on JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya's bail pleas in a sedition case which were opposed by the police on the ground that allegations were grave as they were the main organisers of the campus event.

The duo, who are lodged in jail since February 23, has sought bail on the ground of parity with JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, saying he has already been granted bail and the incident did not attract charges of sedition.

Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh heard the arguments in which both the accused said they should be given the relief like Kanhaiya since they are in judicial custody and the police do not need their custody for the probe.

Read: 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogans raised by outsiders: JNU report

This was opposed by the investigators who said the students' intention was to create hatred against the established government, which attracts the sedition charge.

The police said the case against Kanhaiya "is very much different" from that of Umar and Anirban as the JNUSU President was not the organiser of the event and there are 10 independent witnesses including security guards, JNU staff and the students who have confirmed that "anti-Indian slogans were raised" at the programme.

"The slogans attempted to incite the mob. These two persons, Umar and Anirban, led the crowd, which shouted anti- Indian slogans. The police has also recovered two cellphones which established that anti-Indian slogans were raised by Umar and Anirban during the event," the prosecution said, adding that posters used for the event were recovered from the emails of two accused which shows that they were the main organisers of the event which took place even after permission was withdrawn by the JNU administration.

Read: Fresh poster issues death threat to Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid

However, the counsel for both the accused said, in this case there was no violence prior or later to the incident. Advocate Trideep Pais, who represented Anirban, said there are a number of reports and even the police is saying that several videos on the incident which are in public domain are doctored and "even the report of JNU on the incident says that the slogans were raised by outsiders".

Pais said that event organised by both the accused cannot be termed as unlawful assembly, even though the permission to hold that meeting was cancelled as no violence took place.

"My clients are already in the custody since February 23 after they voluntarily surrendered, including seven days' police custody. They were absent for few days before surrendering because there was serious threat to life," the counsel said.

He also said that their absence is resulting in ex-parte orders passed by the committees’ set-up by JNU in this matter.

Read: Rusticate Kanhaiya Kumar, recommends top JNU panel

Identical arguments were made by Umar's counsel Jawahar Rana. While seeking bail on the ground of parity, the counsel said, "Their co-accused Kanhaiya Kumar has already been granted bail and there were similar allegations against him as well. This case is not different from Kanhaiya's. Besides these three, seven persons were also named in the case but they are also free."

Advocate Yashpal, caught on camera attacking JNU students and media persons in the Patiala House Court Complex on February 15 and 17, was also present in the proceedings, which took place amid high security.

The advocates, related to the case, were also taken out of the court in police escort.

Read: JNU panel finds Kanhaiya, 20 others guilty of holding Afzal Guru event

The police had arrested Umar and Anirban for allegedly organising a controversial event at JNU on February 9 where anti-India slogans were alleged to have been raised. Their judicial custody was yesterday extended by the court till March 29.

The duo had returned to the JNU campus on February 21 after going missing since February 12. Delhi Police had issued a look-out notice on February 20 against Umar, Anirban and three other students -- Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakash. Kanhaiya was earlier granted interim bail for six months by the Delhi High Court.

( Source : PTI )
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