Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad reads Constitution during demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Jama Masjid after the Friday prayers, in New Delhi. (Source: EXPRESS PHOTO BY PRAVEEN KHANNA)
A Delhi court granted bail to Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekar Azad Wednesday in a case related to anti-CAA protests at Delhi's Daryaganj. While hearing Azad's bail plea today, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau imposed certain conditions on his bail and said the Bhim Army chief should not be in Delhi for the next four weeks. The judge expressed concern about security in Delhi given elections are around the corner. "Azad has to mark his presence with SHO in Saharanpur every Saturday for the next 4 weeks. And then after that every last Saturday of every month till chargesheet filed," added ASJ Lau.
The judge also said that Azad can not participate in dharnas for one month.
Earlier today, during the bail plea hearing, ASJ Lau told Azad's counsel Mehmood Pracha that the Prime Minister must not be attacked and our institutions must be respected.
Azad, had filed his bail application, claiming that the Delhi Police invoked "boilerplate" charges against him and arrested him "mechanically" without following the due process of law.
He was arrested by the Delhi Police after his outfit had organised a march from Jama Masjid to Jantar Mantar against the amended Citizenship Act and has been in judicial custody since December 21.
The hearing began at 2:30 pm inside ASJ Lau's courtroom. Pracha started off by reading the Azad's tweets which the Delhi Police claimed incited violence.
Pracha read a tweet by Azad praising Ambedkar and his contribution to the Constitution. ASJ Lau said, "That is right."
The ASJ went onto say, "The prosecutor is saying that these tweets incited violence. It excited people." Pracha said, "People get excited to save our country, praise our leaders." The ASJ said, "We don't praise our leaders. We praise the institution."
Pracha went on to read another tweet which said that Modi Ji pushes the police forward when he feels threatened. ASJ Lau said, "That is problematic. You have to respect the institution. You have to respect the Prime Minister. Why should you attack the PM ?"
While discussing the imposition of section 144 by the Delhi Police, the ASJ said, "This section has been the most debated. The Supreme Court has said it and so have the High Courts. Section 144 can not be used as an instrument of repression. We are fighting for our rights, but we are also fighting for our duties. The first lesson we learnt as law students is that your rights end when others' rights starts."
The ASJ then said that people are inconvenienced when public property is destroyed which is why section 144 is repeatedly used. "The day we say that our rights are infringed we must ask ourselves whether we have performed our fundamental duties."
Pracha then read out another tweet which said it was not Azad's outfit which caused violence but the RSS was responsible for it. ASJ Lau said, "Why are you naming the RSS? Talk about yourself. This can incite people. Ideologically we may differ. It is your right under the Constitution".
Pracha read out a quote from Ram Prasad Bismil tweeted by Azad and said we sing this song every day. "Do you?" the ASJ asked. Pracha replied, "I am not allowed to sing it in front of the Delhi Police they may take it as provocative. In my heart, I always sing it."
The ASJ then asked what is the guarantee that Azad if granted bail repeats the same offences and would cause law and order problem. Pracha replied, "He was helping the police maintain law and order. He was serving them tea."
The ASJ asked his many organizations called for the protest. Pracha replied that only Azad's outfit called for the protest. ASJ Lau said, "As per the law the person organising the protest is liable for damages." The ASJ asked the public prosecutor whether any assessment of damage to public property was done. The prosecutor replied, "Two private cars were damaged, police barricades were damaged, middle part of a road was damaged..."
ASJ Lau again asked Pracha if Azad was released something similar would take place. Pracha replied, "We can give our speeches to the Delhi Police."
The ASJ said, "You can make such illegal offers, I can not permit it."