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Read Delhi HC Kanhaiya Kumar bail order, disappointing FoE supporters: Anti-nationalism is ‘infection’ causing ‘gangrene’

After a suspenseful countdown to delivery of order in the JNU students union leader, Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail application, Delhi high court justice Pratibha Rani, gave the key accused in the JNU sedition case conditional bail for six months with a surety of Rs 10,000 in a 23 page order.

The order

Justice Rani released Kanhaiya Kumar on interim bail for six months, calling it a conservative method of treatment for an "infection" which spread in a limb.

Justice Pratibha Rani of Delhi high court, in her 23-page judgment, uploaded at 8 pm today, releasing Kanhaiah Kumar on an interim bail for six months, has disappointed free speech enthusiasts, who were hoping her judgment, if it granted bail, would be more critical of the foisting of sedition cases on persons without much evidence, after the high court had slammed the cops hard earlier this week for relying on apparently fabricated video evidence.

Although at the time of grant of bail, a judge is not expected to sift the evidence to find out whether the accused is innocent or guilty, she would be entitled to know whether the evidence cited by the prosecution is prima facie satisfactory.

Rani observed that Kumar, as president of the JNUSU, was expected to be responsible and accountable for any anti-national event organized in the campus. According to her, the anti-national attitude which could be gathered from the material relied upon by the state cannot be a ground to keep him in jail.

Having said this, however, Rani added that raising anti-national slogans do have the effect of threatening national integrity. The kind of slogans raised may have demoralising effect on the family of those martyrs who returned home in a coffin draped in the tricolor, she observed.

She then reminded Kumar that rights and duties are two sides of the same coin, and Part IV under Article 51A of Constitution , fundamental duties have been specified.

Refusing to concede that the slogans raised by the students could be protected under fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, she called it a kind of infection, from which students are suffering, which needs to be controlled/cured before it becomes an epidemic.

Although her order granting interim bail is a relief to Kumar, it also carries a serious warning to others, to construe it as a licence of sorts. If the infection results in infecting the limb to the extent that it becomes gangrene, amputation is the only treatment, she warns.

As per her judgment, Kumar has to give an undertaking that he will not participate actively or passively in any activity which may be termed as anti-national. He has also been asked to make all efforts within his power to control anti-national activities in the campus.

Kumar’s surety should be either a member of the faculty or a person related to him 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".

The conditional bail is likely to be debated, for what it says and doesn’t say.


On 23 February, when the case was first heard by the Delhi high court, Rahul Mehra, the standing counsel of the Delhi Government, told the judge that he had been by-passed in the matter and the ASGs have been asked to represent the State. He also said that since the Commissioner of Police had stated that Kanhaiyah’s bail application would not be opposed, he should be asked to file a status report.

The Lt. Governor has, in the meantime, given approval for appointment of Shailendra Babbar as government counsel in the case.

On 24 February, ASG Tushar Mehta represented the Delhi police, sought further police custody of Kumar, in view of the surrender of two co-accused students, namely, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya.

Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Kumar, did not press for immediate hearing of his bail application, on instructions.

More significant, the judge had specifically requested all concerned to maintain confidentiality about the remand proceedings, in order to avoid any unpleasant incident as well as to ensure the safety of Kumar.

According to reports in the media, the bail, which is limited for the next six months, carries a lot of restrictions on the freedom of Kumar during the period.

Another report said the Magistrate report to the Delhi Government found the evidence against Kumar doctored and he did not make the seditious speeches, as alleged by the police.

According to another report, Tushar Mehta told the high court on 29 February that the police had no video record of Kumar making anti-India slogans.

Kanhaiya Kumar bail

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