Delhi riots: HC lists bail pleas by JNU student activist Sharjeel Imam, others for fresh hearing in Jan

He and others have been booked under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and provisions of the IPC for allegedly being the "masterminds" of the February 2020 riots.
JNU student activist Sharjeel Imam (PTI)
JNU student activist Sharjeel Imam (PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Wednesday listed for hearing in January the bail pleas of student activist Sharjeel Imam, United Against Hate founder Khalid Saifi and several others in a UAPA case linked to the alleged larger conspiracy behind the 2020 communal riots here.

A bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait was informed by the counsel for the accused as well as the Delhi police that the matters will have to be heard afresh due to a change of the bench that was previously hearing them.

"The matter has been pending for last over a year. Now it has to be re-heard," said senior advocate Rebecca John, who was appearing on behalf of one of the accused before the present bench, which also included Justice Shalinder Kaur.

The batch of petitions was earlier heard by a division bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul, who was recently appointed the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court.

The bail pleas were listed for hearing separately on different dates starting January 15.

Special public prosecutor Amit Prasad submitted all cases dealing with the conspiracy behind the riots and different roles have been attributed to different accused.

"In 3 matters, judgement was reserved. They also have to be re-heard," he said.

All accused in the present batch of pleas had moved the high court for bail in 2022.

Sharjeel Imam, Khalid Saifi and several others, including Umar Khalid, have been booked under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the "masterminds" of the February 2020 riots in North-East Delhi which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

The violence had erupted during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Besides Imam and Saifi, appeals by other accused Meeran Haider, Shifa Ur Rehman, Saleem Khan, Gulfisha Fatima and others against the dismissal of their bail applications by the trial court are also pending here.

Student activists Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have also been booked under the stringent law in the case.

The State's appeal against the bail granted by the trial court to former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan is also pending.

On October 18, 2022, the high court had refused to grant bail to Umar Khalid in the same case, saying he was in constant touch with other co-accused and allegations against him were prima facie true.

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