A Delhi court on Tuesday asked the prosecutor whether Delhi’s Jama Masjid was in Pakistan. Tis Hazari Additional Sessions Judge Dr. Kamini Lau made scathing observations during the bail hearing of Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad.
This was after the public prosecutor told the court that Azad was trying to incite violence using his social media pages. This prompted the judge to direct the prosecutor to share the evidence of such posts with Azad’s lawyer Mahmood Pracha.
In the posts shared by the prosecutor, Azad was calling for protests and dharna near Jama Masjid. The judge, according to the Livelaw website, “What is wrong with dharna? What is wrong with protesting? It is one’s constitutional right to protest.”
The judge continued, “Where is the violence? What is wrong with any of these posts? Who says you cannot protest?. Have you read the constitution?” She added, “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.”
Azad was picked up by the Delhi Police from Daryaganj area on 21 December for allegedly inciting violence during the protests against the amended Citizenship Act. The prosecutor said that Azad ought to have taken permission to hold protests. The judge replied, “What permission? SC has said repeated use of 144 is abuse (referring to the recent Kashmir case decision).”
The judge added, “In the colonial era, protests were out on the roads. But your protest can be legal, inside the courts. Inside Parliament, things which should have been said were not said and that is why people are out on the streets. We have full right to express our views but we cannot destroy our country.”
The court adjourned the hearing in Azad’s bail plea till tomorrow to allow the prosecution to produce all FIRs registered against him in Saharanpur.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court last week had ruled that prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC cannot be imposed to suppress the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights.