Advocate Mehmood Pracha, appearing for Chandrashekhar Azad, said they were ‘absolutely dissatisfied’ with the order that granted the latter bail, but barred him from holding any protest in the national capital for a month.

Suhas Munshi | News18.comUpdated:January 15, 2020, 8:21 PM IST

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday granted bail to Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, accused of inciting people to violence during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Jama Masjid on December 20, but with certain conditions.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau granted the relief, but restrained him from staying in Delhi and to hold any protest till February 16. “These are special circumstances. I do not want any trouble during Delhi elections”, said Judge Lau, adding that if he has dharnas planned, he should not carry them out for a month.

Azad has also been banned from joining the protest at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, as he had planned. Instead, he will be escorted back to Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and has been ordered to appear before the police every Saturday for the month he is out of Delhi.

The judge also said Chandrashekhar Azad should respect the constitution and the Prime Minister and was directed to furnish a bail bond of Rs 25,000.

However, the court has allowed him to visit Jama Masjid within 24 hours, with a police escort, to pay obeisance.

During the verdict pronouncement, the lawyer appearing for Azad, advocate Mehmood Pracha, said the Bhim Army chief faces threats in UP.

Pracha said his client and he were ‘absolutely dissatisfied’ with the order. “How can you curtail someone’s right to free speech, more so when the person in question is a scheduled caste,a community granted extra protection under the Constitution framed by BR Ambedkar. How can the court take away someone’s right to to participate or indulge in elections? We are going to ask for modification in the order immediately,” he told News18.

He said that if the court in its oral observation on Tuesday had so fiercely defended the right to protest and remarked that Jama Masjid, where Azad had participated in a protest last most, is not in Pakistan, then why was he prevented from doing the same now.

“Obviously Delhi is not in Pakistan. Then why are you preventing him from going there? Why are you preventing him from going to Shaheen Bagh when everyone else is allowed to go to there? While political leaders from the opposition ranks throughout the country have been protesting against the discriminatory nature of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), why is only he being targeted, why is the government scared of him,” Pracha said.

The Bhim Army chief was in judicial custody since his arrest from Jama Masjid during a protest against the CAA. A case was registered against him under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public), and 120B (criminal conspiracy). Fifteen others arrested with him were granted bail on January 9.

Pracha wondered why a police escort was necessary to drop him to his residence in Saharanpur.

“Freedom of speech for which he has been fighting is the crucial issue which has been curtailed by today’s order. We were expecting the court to grant him bail, because despite the court asking for evidence against him, for two days police couldn’t furnish the same. First he was slapped with a false case, then they benefitted from it by restricting his movement, now they are trying to silence him. We are fighting for the fundamental rights here, especially those of the depressed sections, that are granted to us through the constitution,” he said.

Pracha had even urged the court to let Azad stay at the former’s residence in the national capital, but the court turned down the plea.