- Chandrashekhar Azad was arrested in December for protesting in Jama Masjid
- The Delhi court was listening to the bail request of the head of Bhim’s army
- “Have you read the constitution?” The court tells the Delhi police
Upon hearing the bail request of Bhim’s army chief, Chandrashekhar Azad, also known as “Raavan,” arrested for his protest last month against the citizenship law in Jama Masjid, a Delhi court said today that “it is the constitutional right to protest “and the people were on the streets because” within the parliament, no things were said that should have been said. ” The judge, questioning the Delhi police about the charges listed against Chandrashekhar Azad, said: “You are behaving as if Jama Masjid were Pakistan. Even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was part of undivided India.”
Bhim’s army chief was arrested on December 21 for a dramatic protest a day earlier in the iconic Jama Masjid in the old neighborhoods of Delhi, where he suddenly surfaced despite the strong police presence and escaped after being stopped. He was arrested a day later and accused of arson and riots.
The prosecutor, on behalf of the police, had a difficult start when he declared himself ignorant about the first information report that lists the charges that Azad faces in Uttar Pradesh. In additional sessions, Judge Kamini Lau, who had requested details of these charges, expressed surprise when the prosecutor said he would “find out.”
The prosecutor also referred to the publications on Azad’s social networks to argue that he had incited violence. When the prosecutor read a message from army chief Bhim about going to a dharna in Jama Masjid, Judge Lau said: “What’s wrong with a dharna? What’s wrong with protesting? It is the constitutional right to protest. “
The judge continued: “Where is the violence? What’s wrong with any of these messages? Who says you can’t protest … have you read the constitution?”
None of the positions were unconstitutional, Judge Lau said.
When the prosecutor argued that “it was necessary to take a permit” for such protests because Section 144 was in place, the court responded: “What permission? The Supreme Court has said that repeated use of Section 144 is abuse.” Last week, the Supreme Court said in an important order about restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir that Section 144, a British-era law that prohibits large meetings, “cannot be used as a tool to oppress differences of opinion.”
The judge said he had seen protests even outside parliament. “I want to be shown under what law it is forbidden for someone to ban outside religious places,” he said, asking for evidence of violence by Azad.
“We have drone images and also evidence that shows Azad giving an incendiary speech,” said the prosecutor, requesting more time to produce the test and other details. The case will resume tomorrow.
In his bail request, Azad had said the police had invoked “repetitive” charges against him and arrested him “mechanically” without following due process. He also claimed that he had been falsely involved.
The judge’s comments are significant in the context of protests across the country by university students, activists and opposition parties against the Citizenship (Amendment) Law based on religion or CAA. The government says the CAA will help non-Muslim minorities in three Muslim-dominated neighbors, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, to easily become Indian citizens if they fled to India before 2015 due to religious persecution. Critics fear that the CAA discriminates against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.