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JNU Case: Supreme Court Transfers Kanhaiya Kumar's Bail Plea To High Court

Court says it would be a ‘dangerous proposition’ to entertain the bail plea, as it will open the gates for all accused to directly come to the Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Friday (19 February) transferred the bail plea of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar to the Delhi High Court and asked it to expeditiously deal with the matter, while declining to entertain the petition saying its direct intervention will be a dangerous proposition.

"You are leading a dangerous proposition. If this court will entertain it, it will become a precedent which will be available to all the accused in the country. Wherever there will be sensitive cases involving political persons or prominent persons or know the atmosphere in the court.

"So in every case if it is said that Supreme Court is only the court, it would be a dangerous precedent," a bench comprising justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said.

Further, it said, "Remember, this is not the only case of this type."

While transferring the bail plea of Kanhaiya, who has been charged with sedition, the bench took an assurance from Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar that in the "prevailing extraordinary situation" pertaining to this matter, the Government of India and the Delhi Police Commissioner would provide adequate safety and security to the accused and a stream of lawyers who will be appearing in the High Court.

The bench also said that the counsel for all the parties would be given preference while entering into the court room at the High Court and the Registrar General would be responsible for limiting number of people to be allowed to enter inside.

The bench which asked the High Court to expeditiously deal with the matter did not give any specific date for listing it.

The Supreme Court permitted the counsel for Kanhaiya to amend his petition, which is to be filed shortly in the Delhi High Court.

The apex court was not in agreement with the arguments advanced by a battery of senior advocates including Soli Sorabjee, Raju Ramachandran and Rajeev Dhawan that extra- ordinary law and order situation, threat to life of the accused and his counsel, hostile environment at the lower court and the simmering situation compelled them to rush directly to it.

The advocates also submitted that they moved the apex court for bail as already a writ petition concerning the arrest of the JNUSU President was pending before it.

However, their submission was objected to by the lawyers for Centre and Delhi Police, including SG Ranjit Kumar, ASG Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Ajit K Sinha, who said the facts of the writ petition and bail plea are different and even opposed it being heard directly by the high court.

The bench was also of the view, "What is under scrutiny is something different and the writ petition is to be heard on Monday. It is totally different from the bail application."

When the argument was made by Kanhaiya's counsel about the law and security situation, the bench said, "We do agree with you that it is an exceptionally extraordinary circumstance."

The counsel said that they preferred the apex court to hear his bail plea as the situation in the High Court also would not be much different, to which the bench asked, "Is it so in the high court? Are we to understand that the HC is also agitated?"

While concluding the one-and-a-half-hour hearing, the bench said, "We permit them to make and amend the bail application today itself."

At the outset when Kanhaiya's bail plea was taken up, the bench asked his counsel, "Did you move the bail petition before the trial court?"

When they replied in the negative, the bench asked the counsel, "Why are you rushing here?"

Ramachandran responded that the incident of February 17 does not require recounting, that is why they are before the apex court.

He said in the prevailing atmosphere, moving the sessions court for bail in the Patiala House Court complex was not possible and because of the general atmosphere, other lawyers were agitated yesterday.

"For me to go to any sessions court in Delhi is impractical, unsafe, dangerous to me as accused, dangerous to me as a lawyer who performs professional duty in a calm and peaceful environment," he said.

Noting his submission, the bench wanted to know from him that why he did not then approach the Delhi High Court.

The senior advocate said it was a statutory right to apply for bail and looking at the experience of the past few days, "there was a feeling that there was denial of access to justice to my client".

He said he is also answering why he approached this court for the bail and continued with his submission that this court is seized of the matter concerning access to justice for Kanhaiya Kumar and he was seeking apex court indulgence.

However, the bench interrupted him and said it was fully aware of the situation prevailing in the Patiala House Court complex and will examine the reports placed before it by the apex court-appointed commissioners, Registrar General of the Delhi HC and the Delhi Police.

"There were some commotions in the Patiala House Court.

We know there is a difficult situation there. However, what is the difficulty and what prevents you from going to High Court," the bench asked.

Replying to this question, Ramachandran said that the facts relating to Kumar's arrest and subsequent events are still under the scrutiny of the apex court which is going to hear it on Monday.

However, the bench differed with him saying the matter listed for Monday and the bail pleas are not similar.

The senior advocate agreed that the bail plea was not put on merit but only because of particular situation in and around the Patiala House Court complex.


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