JNU students, others stage protest march,SC to hear bail plea tomorrow

New Delhi: Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University staged a march in solidarity with their student’s union president Kanhaiya Kumar from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar.in New Delhi on Thursday.

The Vice-Chancellor of JNU, however, issued an appeal to the students to reconsider their decision, citing safety reasons. “While we appreciate your right to protest, we are concerned for your safety outside the campus. We, therefore, request you to reconsider the decision of taking out a march outside the university,” M. Jagadesh Kumar said in an official statement.

Kanhaiya Kumar said he was

The students, however, have refused to cancel the march. “The JNU Solidarity March is very much happening from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar,” according to a statement issued by the students.

Live updates:

4.20 pm: The entire judicial system has come under threat from “hooligan forces“, says noted historian Irfan Habib. Read more

4.15 pm: Students hold protests in the Aligarh Muslim University campus against the attack on students and journalists in Delhi’s Patiala House courts.

4.09 pm: Yogendra Yadav marches at Mandi House with students, teachers, and activists.

4.01 pm: Citizens too join the protest march.

3.45 p.m.: Swara Bhaskar, film actor and JNU alumus is here at the march. Initially, two buses full of JNU students start arriving at the protest march spot.

3.25 pm: Also participating in the protest are students from the Allahabad University.

Photo: Kritika Sharma
Brinda Karat at the venue. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

3.09 pm: Swaraj Abhiyan founder Yogendra Yadav set to join the march at Mandi House.

3.08 pm: The entire Delhi and India wants Kanhaiya released. This is is the nation’s demand, says CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat.

3.03 pm: Mr. Karat reachers the venue and addresses the students.

3.00 pm: Teachers from the Aligarh Muslim University and the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) join the movement. Students from the Hyderabad University were also present.

2.57 pm: At Mandi House, more protesters gather, but the march is yet to start. Protesters have not moved.

Photo: Kritika Sharma

2.56 pm: ‘Observable threat to life and security of Kanhaiya Kumar,’ his lawyers and journalists tell Patiala House court.

2.55 pm: Kanhaiya Kumar in court; tells SC he was “violently assaulted” in court by gathered lawyers and later by one other person in the courtroom.

2.52 pm: SC to hear Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail plea at 10.30 am on Friday.

2.51 pm: Afraid to ask for bail in trial court because of atmosphere there. Dire threat to my life. Grant me bail, JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar tells Supreme Court.

2.50 pm: Sedition case: S.A.R Geelani not to be produced at Patiala House, elsewhere instead because of security concerns, say police sources.

2.46 pm: Delhi University teachers including DU Teachers’ Association president Nandita Narain also join the march.

2.45 pm: Students shout out slogans – “Dam hai kitna daman me tere, jagah hai kitni jail me tere, dekh liya hai dekhenge.” “Inqialab zindabad.”

2.40 pm: More JNU students, around 10 buses full, are expected to join in soon.

2.35 pm: Protest gets underway with a large number of JNU students. AISF hijacks protest with their own members.

2.30 pm: Aam Aadmi party delegation led by Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal addressing the media after a meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

2.20 pm: Students have started pouring in large numbers. Heavy police deployment in and around Mandi House.

2.15: The All India Students Federation (AISF) start a separate protest march of their own, in support of Kanhaiya Kumar, at Mandi House.

AISF members gather at Mandi House. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

2.00 pm: Patiala Court clash: Bar Council of India to take action against guilty lawyers. ““I seek apology from mediapersons and that boy Kanhaiya Kumar for such mishappenings and misconduct. Strong action will be taken against lawyers, if found guilty of indulging in violence at Patiala House Court,” says BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra.

1.45 pm: Delhi Police have registered a case in connection with alleged assault on an advocate after he was targeted by persons dressed in lawyers’ robes at Patiala House court for speaking in favour of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar.

A day after violence erupted in the Patiala House Courts complex in open defiance of the Supreme Court’s call for calm, the apex court on Thursday accepted that “something extraordiary is going on in this country” while agreeing to hear a bail plea moved by JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, facing sedition charges after anti-national slogans were allegedly raised in the university campus.

“I am a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University and not some hardened criminal,” Kumar said in his petition.

Mr. Kumar moved the Supreme Court for bail and release from custody under Article 32 of the Constitution. Article 32 is an extraordinary judicial relief sought from the highest court in the land when a citizen seeks protection of his fundamental rights, including his life and personal liberty.

In his petition, Mr. Kumar refers to the repeat violence on the court premises and explained that he has directly moved the apex court as there has been an “exceptional and unprecedented breakdown of justice delivery mechanism and administration of justice even after the writ of the Supreme Court”.

The petition was met with protests inside the courtroom of a Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and A.M. Sapre.

R.P. Luthra, an advocate in the Supreme Court, protested that Mr. Kumar’s bail plea before the Supreme Court is against procedural law and the apex court should not behave like a magistrate.

“I am yet to see a procedure by which this court can hear such a petition,” Mr. Luthra said.

“If a citizen comes to this court saying that his fundamental rights are under threat, we have to hear him… Something extraordinary is going on in this country. No doubt about it… We will certainly examine this issue,” Justice Chelameswar responded.

“In Malda, people were raped and looted… nobody brought it here. Recently the Delhi High Court was locked by lawyers on strike… is that not alarming too,” Mr. Luthra asked.

“Alarming or not… This court will hear this petition… Everybody should remember that administration of justice should be fair,” Justice Chelameswar shot back, posting the petition for hearing on February 19, 2016 at 10.30 a.m.

Mr. Kumar, represented by senior advocate Raju Ramachandran and advocate Vrinda Grover, said, on February 15, 2016 as lawyers went on a rampage, he was produced before Magistrate Loveleen Singh at “another location” and remanded to two days’ custody.

On February 17, 2016, despite the apex court’s directions to Delhi Police for his safety, the latter “failed to adequately protect” Mr. Kumar, the petition said.

Failure on part of the Delhi Police is a clear violation of Mr. Kumar’s fundamental rights as well as Article 144 of the Constitution which mandates all civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court of India.

Mr. Kumar said lawyers were prowling in the court complex ready to “lynch” him and he was in no position to seek bail before the magistrate.

“His lawyers remained under seizure till 7 p.m. as the Delhi Police was not able to provide security to them for safe exit and kept saying they are waiting for ‘enough force’,” the petition said.

This was when Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi had earlier in the day assured the apex court that he was “100 per cent sure” about extricating lawyers, journalists and JNU members trapped inside the Magistrate’s courtroom as violence escalated outside on February 17, 2016.

“Present circumstances are exceptional and call for an exceptional remedy,” the petition said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court and the lawyers’ team submitted their reports in sealed covers to the Supreme Court.

The Delhi Police counsel and senior advocate Ajit Sinha, who was part of the six-member team of lawyers who was sent by the Supreme Court to the Patiala House Courts complex to take stock, said he did not sign the team report.

“I wanted to read it and sign. He (senior advocate and fellow team member Harin Rawal) told me to just sign,” Mr. Sinha told the court.

The Delhi Police, also represented by Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta on Thursday, assured it would file its report on Friday.

The court will also hear a separate petition filed by advocate Subhash Chandran seeking an order to set up a Special Investigation Team to go into the circumstances of the violence at Patiala House Courts complex.