Sharjeel Imam's Speech Misinterpreted, Say Jurists, Academicians Denouncing Sedition Charges against him
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 27— Former judge at the Supreme Court of India, Markandey Katju has criticised Police charges against JNU student Sharjeel Imam for his allegedly inflammatory speech regarding anti-CAA protest and Assam at Aligarh.
Quoting Brandenburg vs Ohio, 395 US 444 (1969) case of the US Supreme Court in a post on his Facebook profile, Justice Katju said: “The Constitutional guarantee of free speech does not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
Cases have been registered against Sharjeel in five states viz Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with charges of sedition among others. He has been charged under 13(1)/18 of UAPA along with other charges under IPC at the Guwahati Crime Branch Police Station.
Justice Katju said: “I am of the opinion that Sharjeel Imam committed no crime, and the FIRs against him deserve to be quashed by the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution or section 482 Cr.P.C.”
Besides Justice Katju, several individuals including academicians, journalists, jurists and activists have also come openly against the Police charges.
In a statement signed by around 500 people including Jenny Rovena (Delhi University), Ravichandran Bathran (Dalit Camera), K Ashraf (University of Johannesburg), Aditya Menon (Journalist), they said: “his speech has been misinterpreted by the Sangh media and BJP spokespersons and they are targeting Sharjeel Imam with false propaganda and intimidation.”
“We, the concerned activists, students and academicians, stand in solidarity with Sharjeel Imam and demand the revocation of all the cases against him immediately. We condemn in strongest terms the Islamophobic behaviour of media and police against the Anti-CAA protesters,” the statement reads.
Media reports say Sharjeel’s home in Bihar has been raided by the police to arrest him.
A graduate in computer science from IIT-Mumbai, Sharjeel is pursuing research at the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU.
His mother Afshan Rahim was quoted by NDTV as saying: “My son is innocent. He is a bright young man and not a thief or a pickpocket. I swear in the name of God that I do not know about his whereabouts. But I can guarantee that upon learning about the cases, he will appear before the investigating agencies and fully cooperate in the probe.”
Sharjeel’s late father Akbar Imam was a local JD(U) leader who had unsuccessfully contested an assembly election.