New Delhi: After five years, a Delhi court has summoned former JNUSU and CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar, and nine others, including already incarcerated Umar Khalid, on March 15 in a 2016 alleged sedition case filed by the Delhi Police.
Kumar, who was a key Opposition Mahagathbandhan campaigner in the Bihar elections last year and drew large crowds, has been accused by the Delhi Police in its chargesheet of leading a procession and of supporting “seditious slogans” raised in the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on February 9, 2016, during an event to mark the third anniversary of the hanging of Parliament attack convict, Afzal Guru, as per a report in the Indian Express.
After passage of five years, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (Patiala House Courts) Pankaj Sharma on Monday, while taking cognisance of the chargesheet against Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain Gattoo, Muneeb Hussain Gattoo, Umar Gul, Rayees Rasool, Basharat Ali and Khalid Bashir Bhatt, said, “The sanction to prosecute accused persons has already been filed by the Home Department, GNCT [Delhi government], dated February 27, 2020. After careful perusal of the chargesheet and consideration of the material, all the accused persons are summoned to face trial and they have been summoned through investigation officer for March 15, 2021,” reported the Indian Express.
As per media reports in 2016, the police was also supposed to be looking for five ‘masked men’ allegedly shown shouting “seditious” slogans in a purported video, but these men remain untraced till date.
Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya are all former JNU students, while the other seven accused and chargesheeted are Kashmiri students, some of whom were then studying in JNU, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia.
“After careful perusal of the charge-sheet and consideration of the material, all the accused persons mentioned herein above are summoned to face trial for the offence under section 124A/323/465/471/143/147/149/120B of IPC. Accused persons be summoned through investigating officer for March 15. Copy of this order be also sent to all the parties through email/Whatsapp,” the judge said in an online hearing, according to PTI.
The accused have been charged with offences under sections 124A (sedition), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 143 (punishment for being a member of an unlawful assembly), 149 (being a member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
As many as 36 others, including Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja's daughter Aprajita, Shehla Rashid (then vice-JNUSU president), Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Banojyotsna Lahiri, all former students of JNU, have been named in column 12 of the charge sheet due to insufficient evidence against them.
The maximum punishment for sedition is life imprisonment.
The case had been registered on February 11, 2016 under sections 124A and 120B of the IPC against unidentified people at the Vasant Kunj (north) Police Station, following complaints from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Maheish Girri and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.