Following the outrageous incident of lawyers beating JNU students, teachers and some press persons inside the courtroom on Monday with the police being mute witness to the drama, the Supreme Court has issued strict guidelines on restricting entry of persons, including lawyers when JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar will be presented before the judges today. But it proved futile and the court postponed the hearing to Feb.22.
Two groups of protesters outside Patiala Courts were shouting pro and anti Kanhaiya Kumar solgans, while many lawyers who were denied entry on Wednesday were seen shouting slogans "Vande Mataram" and "Bharat Mata ki Jai." However, when a Firstpost reporter was taking photos of lawyers scuffling with other groups, the lawyers grabbed his phone and took him inside a room and bashed him up until other press people intervened and rescued him.
JNUSU President was arrested by Delhi Police on Friday and was charged with sedition under IPC 124 (a), which was mostly used by the British colonial rulers against the leaders of Indian Freedom struggle, especially Bal Gangadhar Tilak and others. However, the fact that he was charged with Sedition was challenged by the Left parties for want of evidence to show that his speech iggnited violence in any form.
Kanhaiya Kumar has repeatedly told the TV channels such as India News and others that he was never part of the Kashmiri group in JNU which organised the event on Afzal Guru and shouted anti-India slogans. However, Delhi Police claimed that it had recorded video as evidence to show that Kumar had raised anti-India slogans, which he repeatedly denied in the past and reportedly even during his interrogation by the police.
However, the case took a sudden turn for the worse when JNU students, teachers and some press persons were kicked around inside the Patiala Courts while waiting for the production of Kumar on Monday. Soon, the gory videos of lawyers including Vikram Chauhan and BJP MLA O.P. Mishra kicking the suspected JNU students with their shoes made headlines and the Telegraph lead under ‘Patriots Kicking the Pressmen’ made startling headlines around the country, including foreign media.
The sordid incident forced the authorities to restrict today’s entry of people into the court room to five journalists inside and 25 journalists outside the court. Besides the bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre, only two family members of the accused, if present, will be allowed in the court room, or one faculty member of JNU and a student will be allowed.
The apex court even asked the Delhi High Court Registrar General to be present in the Patiala House court complex and personally conduct the verification of people who have been allowed access to the court room today.
While sedition cases against Indian leaders was common during the freedom struggle, in Independent India, rarely such cases have been filed with concrete evidence. The Supreme Court had categorically denied in the past the State’s arguemnt in many of them and ruled that unless the speech incites violence, it should not be construed sedition in true spirit.
However, Delhi Police, purportedly armed with one video is preparing to pin down JNUSU leader for life inside the prison, while it was clearly visible that Kanhaiya was negotiating with Kashmiri students and not giving slogans.
Unless Delhi Police comes out with more valid video, it is unlikely that the charges of sedition will remain strong. Moreover, the lawyers taking law into their hands and bashing up hapless students inside the courtroom with least respect to the bench on Monday has embarrassed many in the legal fraternity.