What is wrong with a dharna? Have you read the Constitution?: Judge

Updated: Jan 15, 2020, 08:32 IST | Agencies | New Delhi

Hearing bail plea of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, additional sessions judge Kamini Lau pulls up Delhi police for arresting him from Jama Masjid during anti-CAA protest.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau. Illustration/Uday Mohite
Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau. Illustration/Uday Mohite

New Delhi: People are out on the streets because what should have been said inside Parliament was "not said", a court observed on Tuesday as it pulled up the Delhi police after it failed to show any evidence against Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who has been accused of inciting people during an anti-CAA protest at Jama Masjid on December 20.

Asserting that it is one's constitutional right to protest, the court, which was hearing Azad's bail plea, also observed that the Delhi police was behaving "as if Jama Masjid was Pakistan". During the hearing, Additional Public Prosecutor Pankaj Bhatia, appearing for the police, opposed the bail plea, saying Azad had given inflammatory speeches at the premises of Jama Masjid inciting people to carry out violent protests in the area against the amended Citizenship Act.

"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. We cannot disintegrate it," Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said. When the judge asked what evidence they had to prove the allegations against Azad, the counsel referred to social media posts of the Bhim Army Chief wherein he calls people to come to Jama Masjid and sit in 'dharna'. To this, the judge asked, "What is the problem with going to Jama Masjid? What is wrong with dharna? It is one's constitutional right to protest. Where is the violence? What is wrong with any of these posts? Have you read the Constitution?"

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad shouts slogans during a protest against CAA at Jama Masjid. Pic/PTIBhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad shouts slogans during a protest against CAA at Jama Masjid. Pic/PTI

"You are behaving as if Jama Masjid was Pakistan and even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India," the judge said. The court asked the investigating officer in the case to put on record all the evidence which showed that Azad was allegedly giving inflammatory speeches at the gathering at Jama Masjid and any law which showed that the gathering there was unconstitutional. It has put up the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.

'Police have power to control traffic'

The Delhi High Court said on Tuesday the police have the power to control traffic wherever protests are going on and directed it to look into a plea against restrictions on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch which has been closed for a month due to agitations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Kerala challenges CAA in apex court

The CPI(M)-led Kerala became the first state to challenge the CAA, 2019 in the Supreme Court and sought that it be declared as violative of the basic structure — principle of equality, freedom and secularism. The Kerala Assembly was also the first in the country to pass a resolution against the Act.

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