Delhi Court’s “Laxman Rekha” Responds Against Umar Khalid On PM’s Criticism -By ASC

Umar Khalid’s case: The matter will be heard on April 28.

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the use of the term “total” by former JNU student Umar Khalid in his criticism of the Prime Minister while delivering a speech that formed the basis of allegations against him in a case on the larger conspiracy behind the February 2020 Delhi riots and said there should be “rekha laxman” even for criticism.

A panel of Judges Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar, who heard Umar Khalid’s confession seeking bail in the case under strict anti-terrorism law-UAPA-asked his senior counsel to clarify certain statements he made in a speech given at Amravati in Maharashtra and questioned whether it is appropriate to use “total” (platitude) for the prime minister.

“Some words ‘changa’ (good) are used. why? ‘Sab change si (everything is fine)’ and what did he say after that? ” Judge Bhatnagar asked after a video clip of the speech was played in court during the submission.

Senior counsel Trideep Pais, who represented Umar Khalid, explained that the statement was “satirical in nature” and the expression was used by the prime minister in an earlier speech.

“After that, he said it was wrong, it was another amount and it didn’t seem like what the PM said was right,” Pais said, stressing that the statement was not illegal and “criticism of the government cannot be a crime”.

“This amount is used for the Indian PM. Is that fair? There needs to be a line for criticism as well. There must be a weak rekha, ”said Judge Bhatnagar.

“That’s right. (But) 583 days in jail for UAPA is not as expected for someone who speaks out against the government. We can’t be intolerant,” Pais said.

He argues that a person’s statement may not be approved by everyone and can result in outrage but what needs to be seen is whether it equates to any offense allegedly committed by the person.

“Maybe not everyone’s consent when someone talks like that … Is it a crime? Without imagination, it is a crime. We cannot follow our moral sense and accuracy, ”said Pais.

Umar Khalid and several others have been indicted under anti-terrorism laws-the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)-in the case for being the “mastermind” of the February 2020 riots, which have left 53 people dead and more. 700 injured.

Violence erupted during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.

During the trial, Judge Mridul asked the senior counsel to explain the meaning of the words ‘krantikaari’ and ‘inqualabi’ used in the speech and observed that it needed to be seen whether the speech “led to violence at any level”.

Pais said that the speech, delivered in Amravati a few weeks before the riots, did not call for violence, was not uploaded simultaneously on YouTube, was not widely disseminated, and that allegations of committing IPC section 124A offenses or any reaction in Delhi because the speech “were not grounded, impossible and more than isolated ”.

The court said that it should examine the roles of other conspirators and ask whether “mobilizing troops” is tantamount to inciting violence.

Senior counsel for Khalid stated that the ‘chakka jam’ (roadblock) was also not violence by any imagination and referring to the visit of the then US President was not illegal and no witnesses said they were incited by the speech.

“Someone might say that it was a carefully crafted speech. Dr Umar Khalid is a clever man. It is undeniable. The point is whether it creates a conspiracy, ”said Judge Mridul.

The court also clarified that “no one has any quarrel” with freedom of speech but the consequences of the speech need to be examined in this case.

“What are the consequences of you using this expression (in speech) —offensive because it is clear. Did the speech incite the people in Delhi? ” the court said.

Last week, while giving Delhi Police time to respond to bail, the court had said that Khalid’s speech was disgusting, prima facie unacceptable, and that certain statements in the speech were “offensive per se”.

Delhi police, represented by Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, have opposed the bail admission, saying that the narrative Khalid wanted to create should not be seen as his defense at this stage and that the trial court refused to release him by “wells”. -reasonable order “which is not illegal.

On March 24, the trial court denied bail to Khalid, saying there were reasonable grounds to believe that the allegations against him were prima facie true.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat had stated from the charge sheet that there was a disruptive planned ‘chakka jam’ conspiracy and planned protests at 23 different sites which would escalate and result in riots.

Besides Khalid, activist Khalid Saifi, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Coordinating Committee member Jamia Safoora Zargar, former AAP councilor Tahir Hussain and several others have also been charged under strict laws in the case.

The matter will be heard on April 28.


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