Hearing on Umar Khalid's bail plea in UAPA case adjourned to Jan 24 by Supreme Court

Khalid has been booked under the anti-terror law UAPA for his alleged involvement in the 2020 riots.
Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on the bail plea of former JNU student Umar Khalid.
Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on the bail plea of former JNU student Umar Khalid.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing on the bail plea of former JNU student Umar Khalid in a case lodged under anti-terror law UAPA over his alleged involvement in the conspiracy behind the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020 till January 24.

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal deferred the matter after senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for Khalid, sought adjournment saying he was busy in a Constitution bench matter.

Sibal said even Additional Solicitor General S V Raju was not available.

The bench expressed displeasure and said it was not inclined to defer the matter.

Sibal then said, "He (Khalid) is in jail. How does it matter? We have never asked for time. Mr Raju said he is also not available. I am on a Constitution bench. Kindly give me a week. It is a reasonable request, I don't understand."

The bench then said, "You have earlier said the matter was not being heard. This is unnecessary, we can't grant an exemption to you."

When Sibal continued to insist, the top court adjourned the matter.

The apex court then said in its order, "Request is made on behalf of petitioner. The request is made by learned senior counsel Kapil Sibal for accommodation as he is on a Constitution bench. A request is also made on behalf of ASG that he is busy today. List on January 24. No further adjournment shall be granted on that day."

The matter was listed along with a batch of petitions challenging various provisions of the UAPA.

Supreme Court judge Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra had on August 9 recused himself from hearing Khalid's plea.

Khalid's petition challenging the October 18, 2022 order of the Delhi High Court, which had rejected his bail plea in the matter, had come up for hearing before a bench of Justices A S Bopanna and Mishra.

The high court had rejected Khalid's bail plea, saying he was in constant touch with other co-accused and the allegations against him were prima facie true.

The high court had also said the actions of the accused prima facie qualified as a "terrorist act" under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, and several others have been booked under the anti-terror law UAPA and several provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the "masterminds" of the February 2020 riots, which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

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

Khalid, arrested by the Delhi Police in September 2020, had sought bail on grounds that he neither had any criminal role in the violence nor any "conspiratorial connect" with any other accused in the case.

The Delhi Police had opposed Khalid's bail plea in the high court, saying the speech delivered by him was "very calculated" and he brought up contentious issues like Babri Masjid, triple talaq, Kashmir, the alleged suppression of Muslims and the CAA, and NRC.

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