After three years, the Delhi Police on Monday filed a 12,000-page chargesheet against 10 people, including student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, in a sedition case for allegedly raising “anti-national slogans” during an event on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in February 2016.
The Patiala House Court will consider the chargesheet on Tuesday. The others named in the chargesheet include Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayees Rasool, Bashir Bhat and Basharat Bhat. According to Asian News International (ANI), student leaders Shehla Rashid and Aparajita Raja, CPI leader D Raja’s daughter, have also been named in charge sheet , but not as accused.
According to reports, the charges have been filed under IPC 124 A (sedition), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 465 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine, forged document), 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 149 (unlawful assembly with common object), 147 (rioting) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
Almost three years ago, Delhi Police began investigations into the controversial allegations of sedition levied against some JNU students. As per a report inTimes of India, on Sunday the special cell wound up the probe, took necessary sanctions from Delhi Police commissioner and the prosecution and was all set to file the chargesheet in the case against 10 people, including former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the chargesheet was sent to the public prosecutor for vetting on Sunday and was expected to be filed soon in the Patiala house courts.
”Police have found concrete evidence against the eight others, all hailing from Kashmir… two of them are students at JNU, two at Jamia Millia Islamia, one at Aligarh Muslim University, one is a Muradnagar-based doctor and two are students,” Indian Express quoted a senior police officer as saying.
The chargesheet, which was filed at the Patiala House court, is based on an FIR filed days after the event was held on February 9, 2016, to protest the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The FIR stated that “anti-national” slogans were allegedly raised at the event.
Kumar, who was the JNU Students’ Union president at that time, said the timing of the filing of the chargesheet just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections indicated that it was politically motivated.
“If the news is true that a chargesheet has been filed, I would like to thank police and Modi Ji. The filing of chargesheet after 3 years, ahead of elections clearly shows it to be politically motivated. I trust the judiciary of my country,” ANI quoted Kumar as saying.
Hours after the news broke, ANI also quoted Communist Party of India (CPI’s) D Raja on its Twitter handle as saying, “Even at that time we said that these are politically motivated charges & nobody can accuse AISF for any activity against nation. There’s nothing to prove, our students can’t indulge in such activities & govt can’t slap sedition Charges on them. We’ll fight the case in court.”
The slapping of sedition charges on the students comes close on the heels of such charges imposed on leaders and intellectuals in Assam, which has been on the boil over the proposed Citizenship Bill, as well as on a Manipur journalist who was critical of the BJP government on the social media. In Assamon January 10, on January 10, well-known academic Hiren Gohain, student and farmer leader Akhil Gogoi and journalist Manjit Mahanta were booked on similar .
As reported by The Wire, “the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that sedition is constituted by written or spoken words which “have the effect of bringing contempt or dissatisfaction or the idea of subverting government by violent means”.
The court held that ‘strong words used to express disapprobation of the measures of Government with a view to their improvement or alteration by lawful means’ would not come within the section. “Similarly, ‘comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the Government, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence, would not be penal’. They argued that what is forbidden are ‘words, written or spoken, etc. which have the pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder or disturbance of law and order.”