Court Grants Bail to Bhim Army's Chandra Shekhar Aazad – But With Conditions

Several clauses accompany the Bhim Army chief's bail, foremost among which is that he cannot stay in Delhi for the next four weeks.

New Delhi: A Delhi court has granted conditional bail to Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad, who had been held since December 21 for organising protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Daryaganj in the national capital.

Several conditions accompany Aazad’s bail. The judge, citing Delhi assembly elections on February 8, has ordered that he should not be in Delhi for the next four weeks, reported LiveLaw.

Further, not only does Aazad have to intimate police each time he needs to be in the city for treatment, he has to mark his presence with the station head officer in Saharanpur every Saturday for the next four weeks and then, after that, every last Saturday of every month till police file the chargesheet in the case.

Aazad’s lawyer, Mehmood Pracha, arguing that he was not safe in Uttar Pradesh, requested that he be kept at the lawyer’s house. However, Judge Kamini Lau refused to let him stay at Shaheen Bagh, instead promising him security at Saharanpur.

She, however, allowed Aazad to visit Jama Masjid (“we have absolutely no objection to him paying obeisance wherever he wants to while he’s here”) before being escorted away. Aazad had promised a visit to the mosque and protest site once he was released.

The bail bond amount was placed at Rs 25,000.

Pracha in court and later the Bhim Army’s leadership have been critical of the court’s effort to keep Aazad from the Delhi elections. Bhim Army spokesperson Kush Ambedkarwadi has tweeted welcoming the bail order, but has questioned whether the forceful distance being put between Aazad and the elections does not mean keeping Bahujan voices out of the electoral process.

Judge Lau, who had in a previous hearing on the bail application, thoroughly criticised the public prosecutor and police for their attitude towards protests, continued with the rhetoric on Wednesday too.

At the January 14 hearing, the judge had 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.”

Aazad had organised a march from the Jama Masjid to Jantar Mantar on December 20. Their protest had been denied police permission, allegedly at the last minute. From the steps of the Jama Masjid, he had held up the constitution and addressed a massive crowd.

Also read: ‘Have You Read the Constitution?’ Asks Judge as Delhi Police Oppose Bail for Aazad

On being told by the public prosecutor that the permission for the march Aazad led had been denied over email, the judge said, according to LiveLaw, “Terms and conditions apply when you give permission (for protest). If you don’t give permission, terms and conditions don’t matter. In some cases you pick up people, in others, you don’t. This is discrimination.”

On the evening of December 20, police had detained several from the Daryaganj area, claiming that they had pelted stones injuring senior officers. Fifteen of them who were eventually arrested were given bail by the same court, on January 9.

Aazad’s arrest and prolonged custody had been on the receiving end of criticism, especially after his physician Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti alleged that he was being denied treatment by police. The judge, on January 9, had directed Tihar jail authorities to provide medical treatment to Aazad, following which he was taken to AIIMS.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Lau asked counsel Pracha to read out Aazad’s “most incriminating tweets.”

Among those Pracha read were:

“Ambedkar said don’t think I’ve died after I’m dead, I’ll be alive till the Constitution is alive”.

“When Modi is scared he puts the cops forward”.

“Ambedkarites don’t engage in violence, those who are engaging are RSS people” .

Judge Lau said the second and third could be considered inciting. She also warned against the destruction of public property during protests and urged people to consider dialogue before protesting, saying that if things go wrong during protests, it is the organiser who is held liable.