Press club event: Court grants bail to Gilani in sedition case

NEW DELHI, Mar 19:
Former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani, arrested under sedition charges in connection with a Press Club event here, was today granted bail by a court here which observed that no purpose would be served by keeping him in jail.
Additional Sessions Judge Deepak Garg granted the relief to Gilani on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 with one surety of the like amount.
“In the circumstances of this case, in my view, no purpose would be be served by keeping the applicant (Gilani) in judicial custody anymore pending further investigation. There is no allegation of the State that there is any apprehension of the accused fleeing from justice,” the court said.
The judge also said that Gilani “shall not leave the jurisdiction of Delhi without permission of the court” while asking him to surrender his passport before the court.
“The applicant shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade them from disclosing such facts to the court or to any other authority,” the court said.
During the arguments, Gilani’s counsel Satish Tamta said that there were no evidences against him that he raised the alleged anti-Indian slogans, claiming that as per the FIR itself, the people raising slogans there were stopped by office bearers of the Press Club of India (PCI) and asked to leave the venue to which they agreed to.
“There is nothing on record that Gilani shouted anti-India slogans or asked others to do so. It was a meeting of intellectuals to discuss the Kashmir issue. I had organised the event as I am Vice President of one of the committees for demanding release of the political prisoners.
“There was nothing in the event which led to any violence as there was nothing that could be called incitement. The prosecution has not pointed out that I was the one raising slogans or asked others to do so. And even if I did so, that doesn’t come under 124-A as it did not create any violence or incitement for the violence,” Tamta said, adding that as per the SC orders itself, merely shouting slogans doesn’t attract 124-A.
He further said that Gilani is already in jail for last around one month and not required for the probe any further. “His presence can also not influence any person and he is not capable to influence the investigation,” the counsel said.
The counsel said credibility of the videos run by a news
channel, on the basis of which the FIR registered, has itself come under doubt.
Delhi Police, however, opposed the bail plea saying that the event was “an attack on the soul of India” and it was “contempt of court.”
“Kashmir is an integral part of the nation. But they were celebrating the persons, Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, who were convicted by Supreme Court. They were terming them as martyrs which was affecting the people and it was contempt of court.
“If he had not liked the SC judgement, he could have thought in his mind and within the four walls of his house. But he had assembled people for the meeting in the heart of the Capital for that purpose which was an attack on the soul of India,” police said while opposing the bail plea.
The agency also said that event was contempt of court and was held with an intention to create hatred towards government and the law needs to be brought in to maintain public order.
“The incident was in continuation of what had happened in JNU one day earlier. As per the statements of PCI officials, anti-India slogans were shouted and Gilani was also involved in it. Gilani had violated the law of the land and the offence was grave,” the prosecution added.
On February 19, a magisterial court had dismissed the bail plea of Gilani, who was arrested on February 16, after the police had alleged that “hatred” was being generated against the government.
According to police, an event was held on February 10 in which banners were placed showing Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat as martyrs.
It had also said the hall in the Press Club was booked by Gilani, through his associate Ali Javed by using his credit card and another man Mudassar was also involved.
At the Press Club event, a group had allegedly shouted slogans hailing Afzal Guru, following which the police had lodged a case under sections 124A (sedition), 120B(criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC against Gilani and other unnamed persons.
The police had registered the FIR taking suo motu cognizance of media clips of the incident.
Following registration of the FIR, the police questioned DU professor Javed, a Press Club member who had booked the hall for the event, for two days.
Gilani was arrested in connection with the 2001 Parliament attack case but was acquitted for “need of evidence” by Delhi High Court in October 2003, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2005. (PTI)


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