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Jamia Violence: Delhi HC issues notice to Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Safoora Zargar and others, says trial court’s remarks won’t affect the case

“It is not a question of dissent. It is about an unlawful assembly turning into a riot. Am I to be governed by my conscious or by the Law? This is a very dangerous trend that people who were part of unlawful assembly are being discharged with such an order”, the ASG stated before the HC

On Monday, the Delhi High court issued a notice in response to the Delhi Police’s appeal against the discharge of Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Safoora Zargar, and eight other accused in the 2019 Jamia violence case. Several respondents received notices from Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma after they arrived in court on prior notice in some cases.

According to the reports, the High court summoned the trial court record (TCR) in digitized form. It refused the observations made by the trial court and stated that the observations would not have an impact on any further police investigations or the trial of any accused in the matter.

On February 4, as the trial court released the defendants, it issued some grave observations. The ASG, speaking on behalf of the Delhi Police, said that the remarks were flawed and would harm future investigations.

The matter was listed for further hearing on March 16. ASG Sanjay Jain contended that the trial court’s findings were flawed and harmful to further inquiry. ASG stated that there was an FIR, along with one main charge sheet and three supplemental charge sheets. According to him, the trial court discarded the third chargesheet based on incorrect legal reasoning.

“It is not a question of dissent. It is about an unlawful assembly turning into a riot. Am I to be governed by my conscious or by the Law? This is a very dangerous trend that people who were part of unlawful assembly are being discharged with such an order”, the ASG stated before the HC with regard to the trial court’s remarks (by ASJ Arul Varma that “dissent is simply an extension of the invaluable fundamental right to free speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution of India”.

Meanwhile, the defence attorney for Asif Iqbal Tanha said that the extra charge sheet was produced to fill in any gaps in the inquiry. She said that there are boundaries to be drawn between peaceful demonstration and dissent. The individuals listed on the second charge sheet were Jamia Milia Islamia University students, therefore their presence there was not unusual.

The urgent listing of the case was approved by the Delhi High Court on Friday. However, the petition was given an urgent listing on Monday by the division bench, which was presided over by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma. Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General, brought up the issue and pleaded with the bench to list it immediately.

Delhi Police, as per the reports, moved to the HC against the discharge granted to Sharjeel Imam and other accused in the Jamia Violence case. The Police stated in their petition that the Impugned Order is non-est, invalid, and against established legal precedent. “The trial court, while not considering and weighing the evidence on record, proceeded to discharge the respondents at the stage of framing of charges,” the petition stated adding that the trial court erred by making erroneous conclusions that are at odds with the evidence in the case to support its conclusion that the respondents had a cause for discharge.

“It is submitted that a bare perusal of the Impugned Order would reveal that the trial court has proceeded to make observations on the merits of the matter. It is also submitted that at the stage of discharge, the Trial ought to have only merely to sift the evidence in order to find out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused,” the plea read.

“It is further submitted that while exercising its judicial mind to the facts of the case in order to determine whether a case for trial has been made out by the prosecution, the trial court ought not to enter into the pros and cons of the matter or into a weighing and balancing of evidence and probabilities which is done at the stage of the trial,” it added.

Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Safoora Zargar, and the other eight accused in the Jamia Milia Islamia University violence case were discharged by Delhi’s Saket court on February 4. However, the court ordered that Mohd. Iliyas alias Allen is charged in the case.

‘The accused were used as scapegoats in the case’, opined the trial court which also added that the police did not have any proof against the accused. In December 2019, there was violence at Jamia and in the surrounding vicinity in Delhi. The violence erupted as the protesters clashed with the police over the CAA.

A case was registered at Jamia Nagar Police Station in connection with the violence in December 2019 with police naming 12 persons as accused in the case. Delhi police charged the accused with rioting and unlawful assembly while also booking them under IPC sections 143, 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 332, 333, 308, 427, 435, 323, 341, 120(B) and 34.

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