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HomeLaw'Hateful, inciteful, obnoxious': Delhi HC observations while hearing plea challenging refusal of bail to Delhi anti-Hindu riot...

‘Hateful, inciteful, obnoxious’: Delhi HC observations while hearing plea challenging refusal of bail to Delhi anti-Hindu riot accused Umar Khalid

Notably, the particular speech the court condemned was given by Umar Khalid in Amravati and was a part of the chargesheet against him in the larger conspiracy case related to the Northeast Delhi riots.

On Friday, April 22, a division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar termed one of the speeches given by Umar Khalid as ‘offensive’, obnoxious’ and ‘inciteful.’ The court made the scathing remarks while hearing the plea challenging the refusal of bail to the former JNU student, one of the prime accused in the 2020 Delhi anti-Hindu riots.

Notably, the particular speech the court condemned was given by Umar Khalid in Amravati and was a part of the charge sheet against him in the larger conspiracy case related to the Northeast Delhi riots.

“This is offensive, obnoxious. Don’t you think? These expressions being used, don’t you think they incite people? You say things like aapke purvaj angrezun ki dalali kar rahe the, (your ancestors were British slaves) you don’t think it is offensive? It is offensive per se. This is not the first time that you said so in this speech. You said this at least five times. It is almost as if we distinctly get the impression that it was only one particular community that fought for India’s independence,” said the division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar after Khalid’s lawyers read the contents of his speech before the court.

“Don’t you think it foments religious ferment between groups?”, the court further asked Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, representing Khalid, who submitted that it was an opinion of an individual being given in a speech and that there was “absolutely no incitement” and no reaction among the public afterwards.

Coming down hard at Pais’ argument, the court asked whether the right to free speech extends to making “obnoxious statements” and whether it does not attract the provisions of 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code.

Reading the relevant portion of the speech, Justice Bhatnagar said, “all we can say that Prima facie this is not acceptable.” The court added, “Everything else may be acceptable within the four corners of democracy and free speech, this is not acceptable.”

When Umar Khalid’s lawyer responded by saying, “It is so easy to invoke UAPA today. Your lordships may find the speech obnoxious”, Justice Siddharth Mridul curtly reiterated, “Yes we do. It’s inciteful.”

When advocate Trideep Pais insisted that he would prove that the speech was not inciteful, the court rescheduled the hearing of the case on April 27 and asked SPP Amit Prasad to share the digital charge sheet and also other portions of the speech and overt act. It also asked the police to file a short reply within three working days.

Umar Khalid was booked under UAPA

The Delhi Police apprehended Umar Khalid on September 13, 2020, and charged him on November 22, 2020, under several provisions of the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code. In July 2021, Khalid filed a bail application.

It may be noted that Khalid’s bail plea has been rejected thrice since his arrest in September 2020. Most recently, the Delhi Court had refused bail to so-called activist and former JNU student Umar Khalid on 24th March in connection with a case pertaining to the bigger conspiracy in the 2020 Delhi riots, involving offences under the Indian Penal Code and UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). The order was issued today by Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat.

The FIR filed against Khalid includes serious allegations such as Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 of the UAPA, Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, and Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act of 1984. He is also charged with a number of offences listed in the Indian Penal Code of 1860.

The bail application of Umar Khalid, represented by Trideep Pais, Ld. Senior Advocate, filed under Section 437 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) read with Section 43­D(5) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on 6th September 2021.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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