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New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought response from Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur on a plea by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) research scholar and anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Imam seeking clubbing of multiple FIRs on sedition charges against him.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.R. Shah heard the matter through video conferencing and issued notices to the four states. The top court will continue to hear the matter after two weeks.

The apex court also asked the Delhi government to file its response on Imam’s plea, in which he sought transfer of all criminal cases to the national capital and a probe by a single agency.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Delhi government, contended before the bench that it needs some time to file its response on the matter. Mehta insisted that other states should also file their response, and that the response from the Delhi government may not be sufficient.

On May 1, the apex court had sought response from the Delhi government in 10 days on a petition filed by Imam. In April, Delhi Police invoked the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against Sharjeel, who was arrested for allegedly giving a seditious speech abetting violence at Jamia Millia Islamia in December 2019.

Senior advocate Siddharth Dave, representing Sharjeel, contended before the top court that five FIRs have been registered based on the same speech in Delhi, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Moreover, Delhi police have also invoked UAPA. Dave sought clubbing of FIRs and cited relief given by the top court in the matter of Arnab Goswami.

“Give me relief like Arnab Goswami”, submitted Sharjeel’s counsel seeking clubbing of FIRs.

The apex court had stayed numerous FIRs against Arnab in different states for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Sonia Gandhi. The court allowed the probe in one FIR by Mumbai police.

“There is nothing wrong in police registering FIRs. If they come to know about some cognizable offence”, said the bench and queried whether there is a counsel representing Delhi government. The court fixed the matter for further hearing after 10 days.

The court asked Sharjeel’s lawyer to send a copy of the petition to the Delhi government and sought its reply.

Imam was arrested on January 28 from his hometown Jehanabad in Bihar by Delhi Police for allegedly making the controversial “cut off Assam” statement, leading to sedition charges against him.

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