New Delhi: Delhi Police on Friday opposed ex-DU professor SAR Geelani’s bail plea at a city court, saying the sedition charge he was arrested on was a “grievous” one. Geelani has been in judicial custody since February 16 for allegedly organising an event that generated “hatred” for the government. In a similar case, JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were granted interim bail for six months by a Delhi court on ground of parity with Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNUSU president.
In a brief hearing, additional sessions judge Deepak Garg deferred the case to March 19, asking the investigating officer to produce the video evidence based on which police arrested Geelani.
Geelani, who was tried in the 2001 Parliament attack case with Afzal Guru, was arrested for allegedly organising an event in Press Club in which “anti-national slogans” were said to be raised, video footage of which the police claim to have.
A magisterial court had dismissed the bail plea of Geelani on February 19, three days after police arrested him on charges of sedition, unlawful assembly and conspiracy with unknown persons. At the bail hearing on Friday, the public prosecutor stated he was unable to argue the case as he had not yet seen a copy of the 46-year-old professor’s bail application.
In response to Geelani’s advocate Satish Tamta stating that his client’s bail plea had already been deferred once, the court said the matter would be heard on Saturday. “Let it (bail plea) be taken up tomorrow morning as the first matter,” the court said.
Police told the court that the February 13 event had banners showing the Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat as martyrs, and a group allegedly shouted slogans hailing Guru. They further stated that the hall at which the event was hosted was booked by the former professor through his associate Ali Javed using a credit card, with the involvement of one Mudassar.
Based on a FIR registration, Javed, a Press Club member, was interrogated by police for two days.
The prosecution had earlier sought to rely on Geelani’s previous arrest in connection with the Parliament attack case. Geelani was acquitted in the matter by Delhi high court in 2003, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005.
Umar and Anirban granted bail
The court hearing the bail plea of Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, both JNU students, observed that the “role attributed” to JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar does not appear to be different from the allegations levelled against these two accused.
Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh granted the relief to the duo on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs 25,000 with one surety of the like amount which was complied with by them, they were then ordered to be released till September 19.
Sangeeta Das Gupta and Rajat Dutta, two teachers at JNU’s Centre for Historical Studies, stood sureties for Anirban and Umar respectively.
While dealing with the bail applications, the court said, “Although the allegations levelled against Umar and Anirban are per se serious in nature but as claimed by the police themselves, the video footage of the incident has been sent to the forensic sciences laboratory. Its analysis and final report will certainly take time.”
The court also directed Umar and Anirban not to leave Delhi without its permission during the period of interim bail and to make themselves available before the investigating officer as and when required for the purposes of the probe.
In its 12-page order, the court said, “At the outset, it is to be kept in mind that co-accused Kanhaiya Kumar has been granted bail by the High Court”.