Delhi HC on Umar Khalid’s speech: While hearing the bail application of student activist Umar Khalid in the larger conspiracy case of northeast Delhi riots, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked whether it was proper to use the term ‘jumla’ in respect to the Prime Minister of India and said that there has to be “a line” or a “Lakshman rekha” when it comes to criticism of the government.
On Wednesday (April 27, 2022), Umar’s lawyer narrated the entire speech given to the court in Amravati. On this, the court said that words like ‘Changa’ and ‘Jumla’ were used for the PM in the speech, is it fair?
Responding to the court’s remarks, Khalid’s lawyer Tridip Paes argued that it was not wrong to criticize the government. He said, “Criticism of the government cannot be a crime. There is no envisage of imprisoning a person with UAPA charges for 583 days for speaking against the government. We cannot be so intolerant. In this way people will not be able to keep their word.”
Earlier, a bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajneesh Bhatnagar, while hearing the petition on Friday (April 22, 2022), had termed Khalid’s speech as objectionable and obnoxious. After hearing Khalid’s speech, the bench said, “It is objectionable and unpleasant. don’t you think The expressions being used, don’t you think they provoke people? You are saying that ‘your ancestors used to brokerage for the British’ You do not think such things are objectionable. that’s offensive. This is not the first time you have said such a thing in this speech. You have said this at least five times. This makes it look like it was only a particular community that fought for India’s independence.”
The court’s remarks came on Khalid’s statement that Mahatma Gandhi had started a non-cooperation movement against the British in 1920. Jamia Millia Islamia University was one of the educational institutions that Gandhi appealed to establish. In the speech, Khalid further said that the same university is now facing bullets, has been maligned and has been described as a den of traitors.
On this, the court asked Khalid’s lawyer whether Jamia Millia Islamia University was established before independence or was established after. The answer is already received. The court asked that the question before us is whether there is any link between the speeches given by Khalid and the subsequent riots in North East Delhi? Let it be installed.