February 4, 2023

Delhi Court Discharges Sharjeel Imam in Jamia Millia Islamia Violence Case: Judge Stresses on the Importance of Peaceful Dissent

A court in Delhi has cleared Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha and eight others of charges in connection with the violence that occurred at Jamia Millia Islamia in December 2019. The Additional Sessions Judge, Arul Varma, said in a detailed ruling that while dissent must be allowed, it must be peaceful and not result in violence.

The court criticized the Delhi Police for filing a chargesheet that was “ill-conceived” and lacking irrefutable evidence. The court stated that the police failed to catch the real perpetrators of the violence, but instead made Imam, Tanha, Zargar, and others into “scapegoats”.

The case involved the violence that took place at Jamia Millia Islamia and surrounding areas in December 2019 when students and local residents protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens. The protests turned violent and the police used force to control them. Some of the protesting students reportedly entered the university.

Delhi Police named 12 people in the case, who were charged with various crimes under the Indian Penal Code, including rioting and unlawful assembly. After reviewing the case, the court discharged 11 of the accused and charged one person, Mohammed Ilyas.

In addition to Imam, Tanha, and Zargar, the others who were cleared are Mohammed Abuzar, Umair Ahmad, Mohammed Shoaib, Mahmood Anwar, Mohammed Qasim, Mohammed Bilal Nadeem, Shahzar Raza Khan and Chanda Yadav. The court stated that the police chose certain people from the crowd as accused and others as witnesses, which is unfair.

The judge also said that freedom of speech and expression, including the right to dissent, must be protected. The judge emphasized the need for investigative agencies to distinguish between dissent and insurrection, and to allow dissent to have a forum while quelling insurrection.


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