The Delhi High Court has framed charges against nine people, including Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, and Asif Iqbal Tanha, in the 2019 Jamia violence case. The High Court’s judgment came on a plea moved by the Delhi Police, challenging a trial court’s order discharging Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam and student activists Asif Iqbal Tanha and Safoora Zargar in the 2019 Jamia Nagar violence case.
Charges and Acquittals in the Case
Overturning the trial court’s order, the High Court framed charges against nine people, namely Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Mohd Qasim, Mahmood Anwar, Shazar Raza, Umair Ahmed, Mohd Bilal Nadeem, and Chanda Yadav, under Indian Penal Code Sections 143, 147, 149, 186, 353, 427 relating to rioting, unlawful assembly, and obstructing public servants. Two accused, Mohd Abuzar and Mohammad Shoaib, were acquitted by the court.
The case pertains to the violence that erupted after a clash between the Delhi Police and those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area in December 2019. On February 4, a trial court discharged 11 people from the case while holding that they were made “scapegoats” by the police and that dissent has to be encouraged, not stifled.
High Court’s Judgment
Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma noted that “prima facie, it is clear that other people, including Sharjeel, were present in the crowd. They were not only raising slogans against Delhi Police but were also trying to violently remove the barricade.” The court added that while the right to freedom of expression/demonstration should be respected, breach of peace or damage to public property cannot be allowed.
The police, in its revision petition, said the trial court’s order is in the teeth of well-settled principles of law, suffers from patent illegality and perversity, and warrants interference by the high court. The police further argued that the trial court ignored crucial evidence and material on record, and wrongly acquitted the accused. The police requested the high court to set aside the trial court’s order and direct a re-trial in the case or pass any other appropriate order as it deems fit in the interest of justice.
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