New Delhi: A sessions court on Tuesday reproached the Delhi Police for its opposition to protests at Jama Masjid, stating that the mosque was very much a part of India.
“Jama Masjid is not in Pakistan. You are behaving as if it is in Pakistan. It is very much a part of this country,” Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau told the prosecutor, representing the police.
The judge, while speaking on anti-CAA and NRC protests, also said people were out on streets perhaps because things that had to be said inside Parliament were not said.
The judge added that even those in Pakistan had the right to protest peacefully, expressing surprise over the prosecutor trying to make a big deal about any protest at Delhi’s iconic Jama Masjid.
The judge was considering a bail plea by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who was arrested on December 21 following the protest at Jama Masjid against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Asked to show reasons why Azad should not be released on bail now, the prosecutor began by showing some social media messages on calling people for protest, and some against CAA-NRC.
ASJ Lau wondered what was unconstitutional about protests. “It is a constitutional right to protest. What’s your problem with peaceful protests by people? Till the time there is no violence, how can you stop protests?” asked the judge.
The judge also added that she had seen many people who had protested outside Parliament going on to become leaders and ministers later on. The judge commented that Azad was a “budding politician” who had the right to protest.
She also asked the prosecutor to show which law or regulations say any protest in or around Jama Masjid breached laws.
The prosecutor then claimed that there were drone footages to show Azad instigated violence at the site of protests but he sought some time to gather evidence.
This submission also irked Lau, who questioned why the police have not been able to adduce all the evidence in this case when it collects all materials in every other case.
An FIR against Azad in Saharanpur was also cited by the police as well as by Azad’s lawyer Mehmood Pracha.
The judge then adjourned the matter till 2pm on Wednesday, directing the police to produce all relevant materials to justify further incarceration of Azad.
As the proceedings drew to a close, Lau said: “In the colonial era, protests were out on the roads. But your protest can be legal, inside the courts. 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.”
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