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While granting interim bail to Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU Students Union leader arrested for sedition, the Delhi High Court has made some scathing remarks.
As per settled tenets of criminal jurisprudence, for granting bail, a court is supposed to only consider whether the accused might abscond or infleunce the investigation. It isn't supposed to decide on the substantive questions of guilt or innocence.
Justice Pratibha Rani's order interestingly opens with a stanza from the song 'Mere desh ki dharti' from the film Upkaar.
The order says the slogans raised in the JNU are symptomatic of an infection from which these students need to be cured before it becomes epidemic.
Moreover, such slogans "may have demoralising effect" on the families of "those martyrs who returned home in coffin draped in tricolor".
The court has observed that the sort of slogans that were raised on the JNU campus are not protected under free speech. It has underlined the necessity of initiating "remedial measures" but without suggesting what those could be.
Apparently upset at the prevailing situation in the university, the judge states, "Spring season is a time when nature becomes green and flower blooms in all colours. This spring why the colour of peace is eluding the prestigious JNU situated in the heart of Delhi needs to be answered by its students, faculty members and those managing the affairs of this national university."
In other directions, the judge has asked Kanhaiya not to participate in any "anti-national" activities, again without elaborating what activities could be construed as such.
Here are the key highlights of the 23-page order:
1) "As President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union, the petitioner was expected to be responsible and accountable for any anti-national event organised in the campus."
2) "Suffice it to note that such persons enjoy the freedom to raise such slogans in the comfort of University Campus but without realising that they are in this safe environment because our forces are there at the battlefield situated at the highest altitude of the world where even the oxygen is so scarce that those who are shouting anti-national slogans holding posters of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt close to their chest honoring their martyrdom, may not be even able to withstand those conditions for an hour even."
3) "The kind of slogans raised may have demoralizing effect on the family of those martyrs who returned home in coffin draped in tricolor."
4) "The feelings or the protest reflected in the slogans needs introspection by the student community whose photographs are available on record holding posters carrying photographs of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt."
5) "The faculty of JNU also has to play its role in guiding them to the right path so that they can contribute to the growth of the nation and to achieve the object and vision for which Jawaharlal Nehru University was established."
6) "The reason behind anti-national views in the mind of students who raised slogans on the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was convicted for attack on our Parliament, which led to this situation have not only to be found by them but remedial steps are also required to be taken in this regard by those managing the affairs of the JNU so that there is no recurrence of such incident."
7) "The thoughts reflected in the slogans raised by some of the students of JNU who organized and participated in that programme cannot be claimed to be protected as fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression."
8) "I consider this as a kind of infection from which such students are suffering which needs to be controlled/cured before it becomes an epidemic."
9) "Whenever some infection is spread in a limb, effort is made to cure the same by giving antibiotics orally and if that does not work, by following second line of treatment. Sometimes it may require surgical intervention also. However, if the infection results in infecting the limb to the extent that it becomes gangrene, amputation is the only treatment."
10) "During the period spent by the petitioner in judicial custody, he might have introspected about the events that had taken place. To enable him to remain in the mainstream, at present I am inclined to provide conservative method of treatment."
11) "Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances, I am inclined to release the petitioner on interim bail for a period of six months."
12) "The time is ripe that while giving some concession to the petitioner on monetary aspect for purpose of furnishing the bond, he can be required to furnish an undertaking to the effect that he will not participate actively or passively in any activity which may be termed as anti-national."
13) "Apart from that, as President of JNU Students Union, he will make all efforts within his power to control anti-national activities in the campus. His surety should also be either a member of the Faculty or a person related to the petitioner in a manner that he can exercise control on the petitioner not only with respect to appearance before the Court but also to ensure that his thoughts and energy are channelized in a constructive manner."
14) "The petitioner is granted interim bail for a period of six months on his furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs 10,000 and an undertaking on above lines, with one surety, who should preferably be a Faculty member of Jawaharlal Nehru University, to the satisfaction of learned concerned Metropolitan Magistrate/Link Metropolitan Magistrate, with the condition that he shall not leave the country without the permission of the Court. The surety shall also furnish an undertaking on the lines similar to that of the petitioner."