The Delhi High Court on Thursday permitted JNU student Sharjeel Imam to approach a trial court for interim bail on account of a Supreme Court order to keep in abeyance proceedings in all sedition cases in the country.
Imam was arrested in a case related to alleged inflammatory speeches made by him during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in 2019.
A bench headed by Justice Mukta Gupta allowed Imam to withdraw his application seeking interim bail from the high court after special public prosecutor Amit Prasad said while the case essentially pertained to section 124A (sedition) of the IPC, the law required the accused to first move the trial court for bail and approach the high court in case of an appeal.
In view of the objection, the counsel for Imam, lawyer Tanveer Ahmed Mir, sought leave to withdraw the application.
"The applicant is permitted to withdraw the application with liberty to file application before the trial court," said the bench also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna.
The application seeking the interim bail was filed in Imam's already pending bail plea in the case.
Imam, who has been charged with section 124A of the IPC, which entails life imprisonment, had approached the high court earlier, challenging a trial court's January 24 order denying him bail in the case.
As per the prosecution, Imam had allegedly made speeches at the Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and the Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, in which he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the northeast from India.
The application, filed through advocates Talib Mustafa, Ahmad Ibrahim, and Kartik Venu, had said that in view of the Supreme Court's directions, the hindrance raised by the special court while rejecting his plea for release stood obviated and observations surrounding the offence under section 124A of the IPC cannot be taken into consideration in the proceedings pending the final outcome of the constitutional challenges to the section.
On May 11, the Supreme Court had stayed till further orders registration of FIRs, probes, and coercive measures for the offence of sedition across the country by the Centre and the states until an appropriate forum of the government re-examines the colonial-era penal law.
The top court had taken note of the concerns of the Centre and said the rigours of Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC is not in tune with the current social milieu and permitted reconsideration of the provision.
Any affected party was at liberty to approach the courts concerned which are requested to examine the reliefs sought taking into consideration the present order, the apex court had said.
All pending cases, appeals, and proceedings concerning the provision of sedition would be kept at abeyance and the adjudication of other offences, if any, could proceed, it had added.