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A Delhi Court today granted bail to Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Azad in connection with the anti-CAA protest at Jama Masjid on December 20, 2019.
The order was passed by the Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau.
Inter alia, Judge Lau found no merit in the submissions made by the police that Azad had incited violence by a speech made by him during the protest. Taking note that Azad had only read out the preamble of the Constitution of India, Judge Lau observed in her order,
ADJ Kamini Lau
The judge further emphasised that peaceful protests cannot be curtailed by the state. In this regard, the order records,
All the same, the court proceeded to caution that while exercising the right to peacefully protest, it has to be ensured that no corresponding right of another is violated and no inconvenience is caused to anyone. the Judge added,
ADJ Kamini Lau
The Court granted bail after also taking note that the police had not shown any material to implicate Azad for the alleged violence cited by them, that it had been 25 days since Azad was sent to judicial custody and given that the offences he stood accused of were by and large bailable. The Court also took note that Azad was undergoing regular treatment for Polycythemia and that others who had been charged for similar offences have been enlarged on bail.
Bail was granted subject to the furnishing a personal bond of Rs 25,000 with two sureties. Further, the Court also laid down the following additional conditions.
Chandra Shekhar Azad has been directed not to to stay in Delhi till the Delhi elections or indulge in "commission of similar offences in future". The judge further directed the Delhi Police to escort Azad to his residence in Saharanpur within 24 hours of his release.
While in Saharanpur, Azad is required to mark his presence before the SHO at Fatehpur PS, Saharanpur on every Saturday for four weeks. In case Azad has to visit AIIMS for his medical condition, he shall first inform the DCP (Crime), who will provide him with an escort.
The court also clarified that before leaving for Saharanpur, if Azad wishes to visit any place in Delhi including Jama Masjid or Ravidas Temple, the Delhi Police shall not stop him.
These restrictions will be in effect for one month, until the Delhi elections are concluded, the court said. Azad has been given the opportunity to seek modification of the order pursuant to the legal rights available to him.
Azad and several others had undertaken a protest march in Delhi on December 20. Azad has been in judicial custody since December 21.
A host of charges were levelled against Azad, including being part of an unlawful assembly by the Delhi Police on the grounds that no police permission was given for the same.
The FIR was filed under Sections 147/148/149/436/427/323/353/332/186/120-B/34 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act against Azad.
In this regard, Azad’s bail plea had stated,
“That charging the accused with being a part of an unlawful assembly is erroneous, as at no point of time during the alleged incident did the police authorities declare, announce, or proclaim the peaceful protestors to be an unlawful assembly, and nor were any warnings issued or announced in this regard.”
The plea also stated that while Azad had been named in the FIR, no specific allegation or charge has been invoked against him. Thus, the invocation of Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) was done in a completely mechanical fashion, without the backing of any evidence.
Appearing for Azad, Advocate Mahmood Pracha contended that Azad had not indulged in any violence at Jama Masjid and the same could be confirmed from Delhi Police's drones.
The Delhi Police had opposed the release on Azad on bail on the ground that Azad was a repeat offender and if released on bail, the offences would be repeated.
[Read the Order]