The Delhi High Court on Wednesday deferred the bail plea hearing of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who was arrested on 12 February on charges of sedition, till 29 February after the Delhi Police told the court that it will seek his fresh remand to "unearth any larger conspiracy".
Appearing for the Delhi Police, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told Justice Pratibha Rani that they were moving a remand application to seek Kanhaiya's police custody for the third time, to confront him with fellow Jawaharlal Nehru University students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya who surrendered on Tuesday night.
Kanhaiya is currently under judicial custody till 2 March. “Kanhaiya’s police remand is required to confront him with Khalid and Anirban for further investigation,” Mehta said.
Kanhaiya’s counsel Kapil Sibal and Rebecca John asked the court to defer the hearing as they will oppose the police’s remand application.
“Since two JNU students surrendered last (Tuesday) night, we need to confront them with Kanhaiya,” Mehta said.
Justice Pratibha Rani, while allowing police to move the remand application before the concerned court, said: “We have to ensure that they don’t suffer any scratch, that’s my only concern.”
The Delhi police opposed the bail plea of Kanhaiya and has submitted a status report to the court. The police contend that if Kanhaiya is released on bail, “he may create law-and-order problems by conducting meetings in his support, hampering arrest of other accused people”. The police said that Kanhaiya did not cooperate with them at all during the course of the interrogation.
The police report on the matter said that it was looking into possible “linkage between Kanhaiya and some foreign elements with their mouths covered” who were present during the 9 February event inside the JNU campus.
Kanhaiya was arrested on 12 February in a sedition case after the event held on the university campus against the execution of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Kanhaiya is alleged to have shouted anti-India slogans at the event.
Khalid and Anirban, along with three others who were being searched by the police, went missing from the JNU campus on February 12 after Kanhaiya was arrested. They surrendered to the police on late Tuesday night.
The police said it is apprehensive that in case Kanhaiya is released, he “may influence the witnesses and also hamper the investigation. It would send a wrong signal to the student community across the country that such anti-India activities can be conducted with immunity".
"He (Kanhaiya) may become the rallying point to encourage such anti-India movements which would not only spread disaffection but would also be contemptuous since the conviction recorded by the Supreme Court is being termed judicial killing," the report stated.
Delhi Police further said: "It is an open secret that the aforesaid conduct of holding an event on 9 February has not only ramifications within India, it has an international impact as well."
Justice Pratibha Rani pointed out the fact that the police has the statutory right to seek remand of Kanhaiya till 27 February.
According to the CrPC, an accused may be held in police custody for a period not more than 14 days, except in special circumstances. As Kanhaiya was arrested on 12 February, Delhi Police has the statutory right to seek remand before the expiry of the 14-day period, police said.
ASG Mehta told the court that Delhi Police will ensure safety of lawyers and the accused in the case. Security was beefed up inside and outside the court room during the hearing. The entry to the courtroom of Justice Pratibha Rani was restricted to lawyers involved in the case and a few media persons. The high court posted the matter for 29 February.