Delhi High Court: In an elaborately reasoned order, the Single Bench of Pratibha Rani J. granted six months interim bail to JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar on a personal bond of Rs. 10000, surety of a JNU faculty member and an undertaking by the accused for not participating in any activity directly/indirectly which may be termed as anti-national.
Accused Kanhaiya Kumar has been the prime focus of the raging debate and controversy between the Government, students and media since his arrest under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, charging him for sedition. Allegedly, on the evening of February 9th, 2016, the accused actively participated in an event organised to protest the judicial killing of the Parliamentary attack convicts – Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt. The event witnessed extensive sloganeering such as Bharat Ki Barbadi Tak Jung Rahegi, Indian Army Murdabad, Bharat Tere Tukde Honge Inshallah etc. Riled up by such sloganeering, another group of students counterfaced the protestors and started raising pro-India slogans, which charged the atmosphere intensely and police had to be called up. Later, upon the filing of an FIR dated February 11th, 2016, the accused was arrested by the police and was remanded to police custody thrice. The defence represented by Kapil Sibal argued that the accused had not participated actively in the event, but was there at the site only to pacify the stiff between the agitating students. However, the prosecution represented by Tushar Mehta (ASG) while keeping their identities undisclosed, advanced statements of three witnesses affirming active participation of the accused in the impugned incident.
Expressing concerns over the incident, the Bench highlighted the ultimate sacrifices made by the Indian Army while serving in some of the most treacherous terrains around the world. The Bench noted that it is only because of our men on the borders (who were allegedly slandered in the sloganeering) that the students could exercise their freedom to raise such slogans in the comforts of the university campus. Further, positing upon the right to free speech and expression claimed by the accused, the Bench reminded him of the fundamental duties enshrined under Article 51A of the Constitution, averring that both rights and duties are two sides of the same coin. Hoping that the accused would’ve introspected about the events while under custody, the Bench moved to provide conservative method of treatment to the accused by granting him bail with conditions. [Kanhaiya Kumar v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 1362 ordered on 02/03/2016]