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Sedition accused Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail plea hearing deferred till Feb 29

Delhi Police on Wednesday told the Delhi high court that further custodial interrogation of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students union president Kanhaiya Kumar is required in the wake of the arrest of two other accused students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya in the sedition case.

JNUSU chief Kanhaiya-AV

As soon as the hearing on Kanhaiya’s bail plea commenced before Justice Pratibha Rani, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta told the court that police have a statutory right to take police custody of an accused for 15 days and due to new developments Kanhaiya’s custodial remand is necessary.

“After yesterday’s development, two of the accused have surrendered and are in safe custody. Their remand is yet to be taken. In the backdrop of the new development and as per our statutory right of 15 days police custody of an accused, we will be seeking remand of Kanhaiya Kumar to confront him with Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya,” Mehta submitted.

The ASG said, “Our right cannot be curtailed and the present bail petition be deferred.”

However, during the hearing, when the court was informed about violence at Patiala House court complex during Kanhaiya’s remand proceedings, the bench observed, “We have to ensure that no one suffers even a scratch this time. The Registrar of the Delhi High Court and the police should ensure that no ruckus, as happened in the past, should take place while the accused are being produced.”

Then Mehta told the court to defer the bail petition in wake of the new development.

The bench has now fixed February 29 for further hearing on the bail plea.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Kanhaiya, contended that as per the status report filed by Delhi Police, in pursuance to the court’s direction yesterday, there was no evidence of any anti-India slogans being raised by his client.

“I would like to tell the court that in the light of the status report filed by the police, there is no evidence of anti-India slogans raised by Kanhaiya. So he should be granted bail,” Sibal said.

Mehta, however, said that as per the new circumstances and evidence which have emerged, Kanhaiya is required to be confronted with the two arrested accused.

Kanhaiya, who was arrested on February 12, was in police custody till February 17 when he was remanded in judicial custody till March 2 amidst violence at the court premises during the remand proceedings.

During the proceedings, the bench said this time only the counsel for the accused, the lawyers representing the investigating agency and police officials will remain present in the court room during the remand proceedings which have to be done secretly so that no untoward incident takes place.

The Delhi government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the bench that he should also be heard in this matter.

The bench, however, observed, “This inside fight should not be carried on. Let the court proceed with the matter.”

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