‘Have you read the Constitution? It is one’s constitutional right to protest.’
‘Have you read the Constitution? It is one’s constitutional right to protest.’ Asks Judge as Delhi police oppose bail to Azad
The public prosecutor appearing for the Delhi police and which today continued to oppose bail to Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad in a Delhi Court seemed to have his work cut out. Azad had been arrested by the Delhi police on the 21st of December during a protest against the Constitutional Amendment Act. The protest march which began near Jama Masjid and went towards Daryaganj had turned violent. Today Azad’s lawyers insisted that the Bhim Army chief had a right to protest and had been doing so peacefully, Judge Dr Kamini Lau seemed to agree and asked the public prosecutor ‘What is wrong with protesting? It is one’s constitutional right to protest. Have you read the constitution?’
The Judge also asked the prosecutor what was wrong with protesting near Jama Masjid ?, ‘Is Jama Masjid in Pakistan? And even if it was, Pakistan was a part of India’ there is no restriction about protesting near a religious structure the judge observed.
While the prosecutor initially claimed that Azad had not sought permission to protest from the police, Judge Lau reminded the prosecutor of last week’s Supreme Court’s judgment in the Kashmir internet shutdown case when the top court in its judgement had “the power under Section 144, CrPC cannot be used to suppress legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic right”;
The prosecutor then informed the court that Azad had posted messages on social media about the protest. While the prosecutor initially refused to share the details of the messages with Azad’s lawyer Mehmood Pracha, he did read out some of the messages in court.
Noting that none of the social messages were unconstitutional, judge Lau pulled up the prosecutor for making allegations without producing any evidence. The judge said ‘ Delhi police which records evidence in trivial matters has not recorded any evidence in this matter?’
The prosecutor then claimed that there was drone footage of Azad making allegedly provocative speeches and that he was out on bail in other cases and was violating those terms. The case was adjourned to Wednesday on request of the prosecutor to bring FIRs registered against Azad in Uttar Pradesh.