Bombay HC to hear anticipatory bail plea of student charged with sedition for supporting Sharjeel Imam at LGBTQ rally
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Bombay HC to hear anticipatory bail plea of student charged with sedition for supporting Sharjeel Imam at LGBTQ rally

Bar & Bench

The Bombay High Court will hear on Tuesday an anticipatory bail plea filed by a student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) who has been charged with sedition for allegedly raising a slogan in support of Sharjeel Imam at an LGBTQ rally held at Azad Maidan last Saturday.

22-year-old student Urvashi Chudawala moved the Bombay High Court today after the Sessions Court rejected her anticipatory bail plea on Wednesday.

The Sessions Court had refused Chudawala interim protection from arrest. The court had also refused to stay its order until she could file an appeal before the High Court.

Today, Advocate Vijay Hiremath mentioned the plea before a Single Judge Bench of Justice SK Shinde. The Court has now posted it for urgent hearing on Tuesday, February 11.

The Mumbai Police has booked Chudwala on charges of sedition for allegedly raising a slogan in support of JNU student Sharjeel Imam. She was among the 51 people against whom an FIR was filed on Monday.

Chudawala is alleged to have made slogans, the videos of which are already with the Police. However, the petition filed in the Bombay High Court on her behalf claims,

"The slogans raised by the Applicant were neither intended to, nor resulted in any violence or incitement to violence at the Azad Maidan.”

It is further stated by the applicant that the entire case is based on the material or a video which is already in the custody of the police, and thus no case for custodial interrogation is made.

"The applicant was exercising her fundamental right to speech and that unless the speech results in imminent lawless action, it cannot be criminalized.”

Petition filed on behalf of Urvashi Chudawala

Moreover, Chudawala has submitted that the Azad Maidan Police Station personnel have been erroneously and falsely trying to implicate and frame her in the present case and that she is a well qualified person having no criminal antecedents in the past.

According to the FIR, the slogan, “Sharjeel tere sapno ko, hum manzil tak pahuchaenge (Sharjeel, we will fulfill your dreams)”, was raised during the gathering.

Earlier, Chudawala's lawyer Vijay Hiremath had submitted before the Sessions Court that slogans referring to Dr BR Ambedkar, Rohith Vemula and Dr Payal Tadvi were raised at the event.

“The fear is that I (Chudawala) will be made an example for the entire city as protests are happening on various issues, to say that cases of sedition will be filed against protesters,” he had said, adding that Chudawala has an examination coming up in March.

The Sessions Court had held that Chudawala's custodial interrogation was necessary. Its order states,

"Section 124A prescribes punishment to a maximum term of life imprisonment. The offences registered against the applicant are definitely serious in nature... the court is required to keep in mind the effect of the order on the public at large.”

The High Court will hear the anticipatory bail plea on Tuesday, February 11.

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