The court had previously taken issue with Khalid’s usage of specific words and phrases for the Prime Minister, and had requested Khalid’s lawyer to explain what he meant by ‘inquilab’ and’revolution.’
The Delhi High Court said on Monday that while former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid’s speech against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Amravati in February 2020 was “offensive” and “distasteful,” just because a speech was in bad taste does not mean it was a terrorist act under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
“Just because the speech is in bad taste does not mean it is a terrorist act. Offensive and distasteful it was… We understand that extremely well. If the case of the prosecution is premised on how offensive the speech was, that by itself won’t constitute an offence… It may tantamount to defamation but it does not tantamount to a terrorist act,”Said Justice Siddharth Mridul
Khalid’s bail application is being heard by a division bench of Justice Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar, who are contesting the lower court’s ruling denying him release in the bigger conspiracy case including the Delhi Riots.
Senior Advocate Trideep Pais made the comment from the bench, referring to the allegations against Khalid over the speech he gave in Amravati.
The bench stated that it has already heard and seen the speech several times.
Surprisingly, the same bench had previously described the speech as “inciteful” and “obnoxious.” The use of words like ‘Jumla’ and ‘Bharat me Modi nanga si’ for the Prime Minister had also been criticised by the judges.
Pais was also asked by the judges to clarify what Khalid meant when he used words like “inquilab” and “revolution” in his speech.
Pais and his instructing counsel, Sanya Kumar, presented the court with a number of claims against him on Monday.
They claimed that while the prosecution claimed that many of the meetings held in Seelampur in January were’secret meetings,’ none of the witnesses mentioned so in their testimony.
The counsel said that one of the meeting participants had even uploaded a picture of the same on his Facebook profile, proving that it was not a secret meeting.
Pais told the court that one of the people who was supposed to be at the meeting wasn’t even there, according to the call detail records.
In response to the lower court’s order, Pais stated that the order’s core premise is incorrect.
“The court has jumped to the conclusion that it was a conspiratorial meeting because the prosecution said so and ignored the statements of the witnesses which did not say it was a secret meeting. Nothing has been discussed in the order. The order just reproduced the statements of the witnesses and there is nothing else. It did not even discuss how it constitutes an offence under Section 15 of UAPA,” Pais Submited
The Court, on the other hand, asked Pais if any weight can be given to material on file while deciding bail.
The court, according to Justice Mridul, is not compelled to look at epithets like’secret meeting,’ but can only consider if the meeting occurred as claimed in the statements.
“We are to look at whether this meeting took place or not. Just because you put the picture of the meeting on Facebook does not mean there was no meeting. Some things hide in plain sight. There is no law that says there can’t be a conspiratorial meeting in a park,” The Court Said
He went on to say that at this point, the only question that has to be answered is whether all of the statements and evidence together constitute a prima facie commission of an offence.
Pais stated that he is not requesting that the court dismiss the claims or pass judgement on their authenticity, but that the entire picture be examined.
Khalid cannot claim that other documents in the chargesheet do not concern him because he has been charged with conspiracy, according to the court.
All of this may not have been done at your request. It may not have been at your request, but the law holds you responsible for what your co-accused has done as well, according to the bench.
The case will now be heard on July 4 since the judges stated that this was a special bench and that the case could not be concluded before the summer holiday.