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As sedition debate rages on, Delhi HC to decide on bail for Kanhaiya on 2 March

The Delhi High court on Monday reserved its verdict on the bail plea of JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who refuted the allegation of police that he was raising anti-India slogans at an event on 9 February at the campus.

Justice Pratibha Rani, before whom the Delhi Police claimed that they have witnesses who have identified Kanhaiya and others raising anti-India slogans, will pronounce the order on 2 March.

Kumar, who is in judicial custody, submitted through senior advocate Kapil Sibal, that anti-India slogans inside the campus were raised by people with covered faces. The senior advocate also questioned the conduct of the Delhi police on registering the FIR on the basis of a TV video.

He asked why the FIR was not registered on that day itself if Kanhaiya and others had raised anti-India slogans as police personnel were present in plain clothes during the event and had witnessed the incident. The High Court was told by him that the application for organising the event in question was filed by Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, also accused in the case and are presently undergoing custodial interrogation. "

"Obviously, Kanhaiya had no part to play as he had not applied for the event. There itself the case against Kanhaiya goes," the counsel said. Sibal, who was assisted by another senior advocate Rebecca John, submitted that the court can itself find from the video that Kanhaiya himself was seen asking people with covered faces, also accused of raising anti-India slogans, for their identity cards.

Sibal claimed that there was no forensic report of the recording which could establish that Kanhaiya had raised anti-India slogans which attract the sedition charges. Taking note of Sibal's submissions, the court questioned the investigating agency whether there was any CCTV footage or mobile recording which could establish that Kanhaiya raised such slogans.

"Whether there is contemporaneous recording where the slogans were raised, pre and post the event," the court asked. The court also questioned Delhi police as to why they did not register the FIR when its officials were present during the event and must have noticed the alleged incident.

JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. Image courtesy

JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. Image courtesy

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Delhi police, defended its stand on arresting Kanhaiya, saying there was evidence, including pamphlets and statements of the witnesses, which clearly state that Kanhaiya and others were shouting anti-India slogans and were holding Afzal Guru's posters.

Mehta also submitted that there was a joint probe of the Intelligence Bureau and Delhi police in which the arrested accused are found raising slogans. "In the light of these evidences, he (Kanhaiya) was very much there on the spot, along with other accused," ASG said, adding that the investigating agency is also probing into the financial aspect behind this incident which is part of a larger criminal conspiracy.

He contended that this case has been transferred from Delhi police to its anti-terror cell (Special cell). However, the ASG's claim was opposed by AAP government appointed senior standing counsel, Rahul Mehra, who said Kanhaiya is a student and he cannot be involved in anti-India movement.

"He is innocent. He is a man who is standing by the Constitution, which also reflects from his speech given on February 11, that he loves his country," Mehra contended. He further said, "Though Kanhaiya was present, there is no direct evidence and nothing to establish that he raised anti-India slogans."

"As a state (Delhi), I pray the court to grant him bail," Mehra said. Kanhaiya's father, uncle and elder brother were present during the hearing, which started at 2.15 pm and concluded at 5.30 pm. After the counsel concluded the arguments, the court said, "The order is likely to be pronounced day after tomorrow (March 2)."
Kapil Sibal argued that Kanhaiya was at the event only to break a fight.

Delhi police sought an extension for Kumar's custody to interrogate him more along with Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya who were also arrested under sedition charges. Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested for allegedly rasing 'anti-national' slogans on 9 February to mark Afzal Guru. According to an NDTV report, the police think that the statements made by the trio are contradictory. The Delhi Government said that there was no evidence against Kanhaiya Kumar and that he should be given bail. The High Court also questioned the police is there was any CCTV footage or if the report was entirely based on a TV channel's footage. Delhi Police said that Kanhaiya cannot be seen shouting slogans, however that there were witnesses (NU officials, Chief security officers and students of JNU) who saw him shouting anti-national slogans. HC questioned Police- Was there any CCTV footage of entire incident? If report is based on TV channel footage, is there any other evidence

According to the police, the investigation seeks to linkages among Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and the others mentioned in the status report.

Kanhaiya had earlier sought bail from the Supreme Court, however, citing that it would set a bad precedent, the apex court, asked Kanhaiya to approach High Court. The High Court hearing was adjourned to 29 February.

According to the police, the investigation seeks to linkages among Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and the others mentioned in the status report.

Delhi Police says that video footage is just a corroborative evidence, there is more evidence against Kanhaiya Kumar to prove offence. Kapil Sibal represented Kanhaiya Kumar presenting that there was no case against him.

The Delhi Police also drew the High Court's attention to the ramifications of the JNU issue — as to how similar sorts of slogans were raised in Jadavpur University causing mayhem.

Earlier, an FIR was lodged against Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury on sedition charges by a lawyer, Janardhan Goud. In his petition, Goud said Rahul and other leaders, despite being aware that Delhi Police had registered a case against Kanhaiya on charge of sedition had visited JNU campus and knowingly supported them and hence it "amounted to sedition".

Read the full report here.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Mar 01, 2016 11:00 AM

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