Section 144 cannot be repeatedly invoked to abuse the law: Judge hearing Chandra Shekhar Azad bail plea

Section 144 cannot be repeatedly invoked to abuse the law: Judge hearing Chandra Shekhar Azad bail plea
Chandra Shekhar Azad

The bail application filed by Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Azad was heard for the second consecutive day at the Tis Hazari Court Complex today.

When the matter came up for hearing today, the public prosecutor in the case informed Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau about the status of other cases pending against Azad. He submitted that the previous involvement of an accused is a parameter while deciding the question of bail.

The prosecutor went on to enlist the conditions to be fulfilled before taking out a dharna or a rally. To this, the judge replied,

"When permission is not there, compliance of conditions doesn't arise. It is anyway a bailable offence."

The judge went on to ask the lawyer what the offence against Azad under the Information Technology Act was. She went on to state that she would see whether the alleged offences were bailable or non-bailable.

Advocate Mahmood Pracha, representing Azad, then proceeded to make his arguments. He read out Azad's social media post, which praised Dr. BR Ambedkar and his contribution to the Constitution.

Pracha added that the post further criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "pushing the Delhi Police forward whenever he feels threatened".

To this, Judge Lau responded,

"We have to respect our officers...Prime Minister is an institution."

The judge went on to reiterate that Section 144 orders cannot be repeatedly invoked to abuse the law. Having said that, she went on to say,

"We are all fighting for our rights but we forget our duties...we block roads, we destroy property...These laws have to be read in accordance with the Constitution."

The judge also observed that she is glad that lawyers are reading the Preamble these days.

As Pracha went on to read Azad's other tweets, the judge chimed in,

"Why are you taking names of RSS? could also be inciting."

Pracha went on to submit that visuals from drones would establish that there was no violence at the protest held at Jama Masjid.

Judge Lau then asked,

"How many organisations had called for the demonstration?"

"Just one", was Pracha's reply.

"When the damage to public property is an outcome of a protest called by you, you have to be responsible", said the judge.

Pracha replied,

"We are only for peaceful protests."

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Turning to the prosecutor, Judge Lau asked about the assessment of damage. The prosecutor replied that the same was underway.

The judge then asked,

"Are you saying that there is no evidence of the accused delivering an "inciting speech"?"

The prosecutor replied that he had read statements to that effect during yesterday's hearing. However, the judge replied,

"But they were not inciting in nature."

The judge then asked Pracha,

"How do you ensure that in case he is released, something similar will not happen?"

Pracha replied,

"I am only reading and making speeches. I can videograph everything if they want me to, every time I go."

The judge went on to observe,

"You exercise your constitutional right then, we'll see if it's legal or illegal...Where there is a right, there is a remedy, there can't be anarchy."

Referring to yesterday's hearing, the judge told the prosecutor,

"Yesterday you have made enough mess. We say a lot of things during the proceedings, those are not part of the record."

The Court then reserved its order in the bail matter. The verdict will be pronounced at 4 PM today.

Yesterday, the prosecutor opposed Azad’s bail application, arguing that he had incited public violence through social media posts. When counsel for Azad, Mahmood Pracha, asked the prosecutor to share the posts, the latter reportedly denied the same.

The prosecutor went on to cite a tweet by Azad stating his intention to join an anti-CAA dharna at Delhi’s Jama Masjid.

In response, Judge Lau reportedly asked the public prosecutor,

“What is wrong with dharna? What is wrong with protesting? It is one’s constitutional right to protest.”

She went on to say,

“You are behaving as if Jama Masjid is Pakistan. Even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest.”

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