Jamia violence case: Delhi HC overturns clean-chit to Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, frames fresh charges

The Delhi Police moved the High Court against a trial court order discharging Sharjeel Imam and others in the case.

Sharjeel Imam charged in Jamia violence case
Sharjeel Imam is among several other accused who were discharged by a trial court last year. (File photo)

In a setback for several accused, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday partially overturned a trial court order that discharged Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha and eight others in a case related to violence at Jamia Millia Islamia in December 2019.

A single-judge bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma on Tuesday framed charges against the accused under several IPC sections, including rioting and unlawful assembly. The court also discharged the accused in certain offences where they were named.

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“While there is no denial of the right to freedom of expression, this Court remains aware of its duty and has tried to decide the issue in that way. Right to peaceful assembly is subject to restriction. Damage to property and peace is not protected,” the court noted, observing that the court heard arguments where judicial interpretation was sought of the right of the prosecution to file repeated supplementary chargesheets.

“As far as role of each respondent is concerned…prima facie in the situation which is visible in the video clips…the respondents in question were visible being in the first line of the mob pushing the barricades against police officers and raising slogans. It is difficult to explain…as the entire action unfolded as it is visible in video clip three. They were also raising slogans of Delhi Police Murdabad and were violently pushing barricades against the handful of policemen who were holding on to the barricades…they were consciously part of an assembly and consciously did not leave the place of such violence and chose to remain part of it,” Justice Sharma said.

Accordingly, the court then went on to frame the charges as under:

– Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Mohd Qasim, Mahmood Anwar, Shahzar Raza, Umair Ahmed, Mohd Bilal Nadeem and Chanda Yadav have been charged under Sections 143, 147, 149, 186, 353, 427 of the Indian Penal Code, as well as sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Properties Act.

– Accused Mohammed Shoaib and Mohammed Abuzar were charged under Section 143 IPC, and discharged from all other offences.

– Asif Iqbal Tanha was discharged of Sections 308, 323, 341 and 435 IPC. Charges were framed against him under other sections.

Justice Sharma, however, noted that the trial court may proceed as per law against them if evidence comes up during trial against the respondents in offences they have been discharged of by the high court today.

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The case pertains to the violence in and around Jamia Millia Islamia at the height of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens in December 2019. The incident occurred when some students and locals announced that they would walk towards Parliament to protest against the legislation.

The Delhi Police booked 12 for offences that attracted charges including unlawful assembly and rioting. In an order on February 4, the trial court discharged 11 of the 12 accused while coming down heavily on the Delhi Police for filing an ill-conceived chargesheet. The court had accused the Delhi Police of failing to catch the real culprits and had roped in Imam and others as “scapegoats”.

The Delhi Police later challenged the trial court order in High Court which first heard the matter on February 13 this year.

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First published on: 28-03-2023 at 16:51 IST
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