By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission on Friday moved an anticipatory bail petition in the Delhi High Court in connection with the FIR by the Delhi police under “sedition” charges for his Facebook post “thanking Kuwait for standing with Indian Muslims. Petition filed by his counsel Advocate Vrinda Grover argued that the petitioner did not commit any offence and the case filed against him with a “mala fide intention to harass and intimidate him as his post does not constitute the offence of sedition. She also stated that his client a senior citizen aged about 72 years who is also a scholar, author of repute and presently heads the Delhi minority panel.
The petition under section 438 r/w section 482 of the code of criminal procedure, 1973, sought court directions to the police to release the petitioner/accused on bail in the event of his arrest in FIR no. 120/2020, under sections 124a, 153a Indian Penal code, registered at Police Station Special Cell (Sb), Lodi Colony in New Delhi. It also sought directions from the Court to prevent the abuse of legal process and to secure the ends of justice.
Providing grounds for urgency of the matter, Advocate Grover argued that the petitioner is a public servant as well as a senior citizen aged 72 years, who suffers from heart disease and hypertension and is highly susceptible to COVID-19 infection, which can have fatal consequences for a person of his age and health condition.
“In these circumstances there is an urgent need to grant him protection from arrest and coercive action in a frivolous and untenable case, in order to safeguard his liberty as the failure to do so will have irreversible consequences on his right to life,” she added.
Mentioning Dr Khan’s post on social media, the petition stated that on the same day, the Petitioner’s post was “maliciously distorted and falsely” broadcast by certain sections of the electronic media.
It also argued that the FIR against the Petitioner was “misconceived”, being made on “misrepresentation” of facts and an erroneous, untenable reading of the law.
As such, it does not warrant the curtailment of liberty and dignity of the Petitioner, which is his guaranteed right under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, it added.
It also underlined that “the Petitioner’s social media post was falsely reported, distorted and sensationalized out of context by certain sections of the media in order to embarrass him and to tarnish the stellar work that the Petitioner has been doing as Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission.
It asserted that the petitioner’s social media post does not contain any “reference to the Government, or the State, or even to any political party, or leader, but is only directed at “Bigots”, referring to persons in India and outside who have made hate speeches and posted hate”.
It vehemently argued that “the said social media posts of the Petitioner do not therefore constitute the offence of sedition, as defined and interpreted by the Supreme Court and High Courts.”
The 86-page petition filed under Section 438 r/w Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, sought protection in the event of Police action as the petitioner apprehends his arrest in a “motivated, untenable and absolutely frivolous” complaint.
Acting on the complaint by one unknown person Ankit Gupta, the Special Cell of Delhi Police slapped the sedition charges under S.124A, 153A IPC on Dr Khan and also descended on his residence in large numbers probably to arrest him on Wednesday but the police party allegedly gave up the idea of arresting after local people gathered there in large numbers.
Anticipatory Bail Petition was mentioned today by Advocate Vrinda Grover for urgent listing before the Delhi High Court. The mentioning was allowed and the case will be listed on May 12, 2020.