NEWS
15/01/2020 5:28 PM IST | Updated 15/01/2020 5:48 PM IST

Chandrashekhar Azad Granted Bail, But With Conditions

The Bhim Army chief has been in jail since 21 December in connection with protests against the CAA in Delhi’s Daryaganj area.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad during a protest against CAA, at Jama Masjid on December 20, 2019 in New Delhi. 

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad was on Wednesday granted bail, but Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said conditions will be imposed. 

Expressing concern over security in view of upcoming Delhi elections, the judge said Azad should not be in Delhi for the next four weeks. “I want no interference in elections,” Livelaw quoted the judge as saying. 

Delhi will go to polls on 8 February and results will be announced on 11 February. 

Azad has been in jail since 21 December in connection with protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Delhi’s Daryaganj area. 

The judge also said that Azad has to appear before SHO in Saharanpur every Saturday for the next four weeks. Then every last Saturday of every month till the chargesheet is filed.

The judge, according to Bar & Bench, directed Delhi Police to escort Azad to his residence in Saharanpur within 24 hours of his release. The court also said that before going to Saharanpur if Azad wants to go anywhere, including Jama Masjid, in Delhi till 24 hours, police will escort him, according to PTI.

Judge Lau also said that when Azad requires to be in Delhi for treatment, he has to convey it to the police.

Earlier, during the hearing, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau asked Azad’s lawyer Mehmood Pracha how will he ensure nothing untoward happens if the Bhim Army chief is released.

Pracha said, “we can give our speeches to the Delhi Police,” according to The Indian Express. The judge pointed out that it’s not possible. 

Azad’s lawyer then suggested that there will be a videographer to record all the speeches and keep a record.

The judge said that one of the grounds to refuse bail is fear of repetition of the offence and “when damage to public property is an outcome of a protest called by you, you have to be responsible”.

Pracha also read out one of Azad’s social media post which said Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes the police forward when he feels threatened. Judge Lau called it “problematic” and said, “You have to respect the institution. You have to respect the Prime Minister. Why should you attack the PM?” according to The Indian Express report.

The lawyer then clarified that the post was in reference to imposition of Section 144. To this, the judge said that there are times when 144 is needed. “When we talk of rights, we must remember our duties. My right ends when it encroaches upon someone else’s,” Livelaw quoted the judge as saying. 

On Tuesday, Tis Hazari Sessions Judge Kamini Lau had slammed the Delhi Police and asked what was wrong in protesting. 

The judge had also said that people are out on the streets as what should have been said inside Parliament was “not said”. When the public prosecutor said Azad had incited violence and read out some of the Bhim Army chief’s social media posts, the judge asked, “What is wrong with dharna? What is wrong with protesting? It is one’s constitutional right to protest.”

In the social media posts, Azad had called for a protest at Jama Masjid. To this, the judge said, “You are behaving as if Jama Masjid is Pakistan. Even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India.”

Judge Lau had also said that Azad was a “budding politician” who had the right to protest. 

Azad had called for a protest march from Jama Masjid to Jantar Mantar against the Citizenship Act on 20 December, without police permission.

(With PTI inputs)