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Court modifies bail order, allows Azad to visit Delhi

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jan 22, 2020, 6:32 am IST
Updated : Jan 22, 2020, 6:32 am IST

The police also sought cancellation of his bail for “wilfully” violating its conditions.

Chandrashekhar Azad
 Chandrashekhar Azad

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court Tuesday allowed Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, accused of delivering “inflammatory speeches” during an anti-CAA protest at Jama Masjid last month, to visit Delhi for medical reasons and election purposes, while modifying the conditions imposed on him when it granted him bail last week.

Passing the order on a plea filed by the Bhim Army chief that he had an office in the national capital where he held weekly meetings for his social cause and needed to visit Delhi for medical treatment, additional sessions judge Kamini Lau said: “Election is the biggest festival in a democracy. Everybody has the right to participate in it and in fact we call for maximum participation. But while participating in election, the same time the rights of others should not be violated. Democracy cannot be a farce. If the (bail) conditions come in the way of Azad’s participation in the elections, then conditions imposed on him shall be modified.”

The court also slammed the police for opposing Mr Azad’s plea on the basis of “apprehensions”, and not material evidence that he posed a threat to law and order situation in the state.

The court, which had earlier restrained Mr Azad from visiting Delhi for four weeks and had directed him to not hold any “dharna” till elections in the national capital were over, on Tuesday directed him to register his presence with the SHO of Fatehpur police station in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, every Saturday for four weeks and on the last Saturday of every month.

“If he is in Delhi, he should inform about his schedule to the DCP of Crime Branch, New Delhi, and mark his presence there. If he is anywhere else, he should inform the DCP of Crime Branch, New Delhi, about his whereabouts.

“He can visit Delhi for treatment of his medical condition and election purposes or any other purpose, but he should inform the DCP of Crime Branch about his schedule. He can stay in Delhi at his friend’s place at the address given to the court,” the court said.

It passed the directions on a plea filed by Mr Azad seeking modification of the conditions imposed on him when the court had granted him bail in a case related to violent protests in old Delhi’s Daryaganj area on December 20.

The judge asked the DCP if the police had found any material evidence which confirmed that his visit to Delhi might create a law and order problem.

“You (police) are seeking cancellation of his bail on the basis of apprehensions. One week has passed. Do you have any material to show Azad’s visits to Delhi was prejudicial to law and order, public order and national security? Was there any problem in the past one week. Do not submit apprehensions. Give only material evidence in the court,” the judge said.

“If he has a place in Delhi and wants to participate in elections, you cannot deny an electorate from doing so,” said the judge.

The additional public prosecutor, appearing for the police, said there have been no adverse incidents in Delhi due to Mr Azad’s visit in the past one week and the police has found no material against him. He, however, added that the police has apprehensions that Mr Azad will repeat the offences committed by him before but failed to specify them. When the judge pressed to know what the offences were, the counsel said he had given “hate speeches” before.

To this the judge pointed out that the Bhim Army chief was not booked for the offence of giving “hate speeches” in any of the FIRs registered against him till date.

The additional public prosecutor told the court that Mr Azad was not the owner of the property that he claimed to be his office in Delhi and its owner was one Bahadur Abbas who had rented the property to some other person.

The police also sought cancellation of his bail for “wilfully” violating its conditions. “Azad has scant respect for the law of the land. The court had in its order dated January 15, 2019, permitted him to visit Jama Masjid, Jor Bagh and Guru Ravidas Temple to pay his obeisance. However, he wilfully disobeyed the court’s order. Apart from visiting the three places, he also visited Shri Valmiki Temple and addressed a press conference at Windsor Place.

“Moreover, at Jama Masjid, from where he was arrested, he apart from paying obeisance, addressed the public and interacted with media persons in violation of the court’s orders,” the police said in its reply.

The public prosecutor said Mr Azad had claimed in his plea that he held weekly meetings at Ambedkar Bhavan, but a member of the committee and the cashier have confirmed no such meeting has been held and the Bhim Army chief has not visited the place for the past four-five months.

The counsels appearing for Mr Azad, advocates Mehmood Pracha and O.P. Bharti, told the court the Delhi address was not the address of a political party. “Abbas is the registered owner of the property and he was a friend of Azad. There is no rent agreement in Azad’s name. It is a mutual understanding that Azad stays there whenever he is in Delhi. Azad is the only person whose presence poses a problem for the police. This is violative of his fundamental rights. Why can’t he visit Delhi during the elections? If he is not here, how will he address his followers?” the counsel said.

Mr Pracha added that Mr Azad had just read the Preamble to the Constitution at Jama Masjid, to which the judge said, “Everybody should read it every day.”

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