Umar Khalid’s Bail Application Tracker

After the Delhi Court denied Umar Khalid bail in October 2022, he approached the Supreme Court.

“We have no regrets of being jailed in this particular case. We are in fact proud of the fact that we have been booked under sedition,” proclaimed activist Umar Khalid on receiving Bail from the Delhi High Court. This was in March 2016—Khalid had just spent a month in jail booked under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises and punishes sedition. He was arrested for chanting ‘anti-national’ slogans during a protest in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

This was the first of many FIRs charged against the former student of JNU. In November 2020, the Delhi High Court took cognisance of a charge sheet (FIR 59/2020) filed by the Delhi Police accusing Umar Khalid and fellow activist Sharjeel Imam of conspiring and instigating the 2020 Delhi Riots, which took place during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. Later, in October 2020, the Delhi Police filed another FIR (FIR 101/2020) pertaining to vandalism and arson in Northeast Delhi’s Khajuri Khas. The police claimed that there was proof of Khalid’s involvement with other accused persons in the case. 

In April 2021, Khalid received bail from a Sessions Court in Delhi against the charges filed under FIR 101. However, he continued to remain in judicial custody over the allegations against him in FIR 59. 

In FIR 59, Khalid was charged under the Indian Penal Code, 1980 (IPC) for various offences including rioting (sections 147 and 148), murder (s 302) and unlawful assembly (s 149). He was also charged under the notorious Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 for unlawful activities (s 13), terrorist activities (s 16 to 18), and conspiracy (s 18). Further, he is charged under the Arms Act, 1959 for the use of arms (s 25 and 27). In March 2021, a Sessions Court in Delhi took cognisance of the additional charges filed against him by the Delhi police under the IPC: those of sedition (s 124A) and promotion of enmity between groups(s 153A). 

In July 2021, Khalid filed for bail before the Sessions Court. When the petition was heard in August 2021, Khalid—represented by Advocate Trideep Pais—argued that a prima facie case did not exist. The charge sheet included contradictory witness statements and inconsistent claims, indicating that the allegations made by the Delhi Police both under the IPC and UAPA were baseless. Further, the counsel presented that a communal angle was being forced on the CAA protests and activities—which were secular and democratic in nature. 

The prosecution—led by Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad—argued that messages from the ‘Delhi Protest Support Group’ (DPSG) WhatsApp group indicated that Khalid intended to undermine the authority of the government and ‘bring it to its knees’. Further, they disputed the secular nature of the protests, arguing that the CAA protests were organised to facilitate violent outbursts. Relying heavily on the conversations and comments made on the WhatsApp group, the prosecution concluded that Khalid was in fact part of a larger conspiracy surrounding the Delhi Riots. 

After eight months of hearings, on 24 March 2022, a Delhi Sessions Court denied bail to Umar Khalid. The Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat stated that a preliminary assessment of the case indicates a premeditated conspiracy surrounding the 2020 Delhi Riots that Khalid was involved in. On 22 April 2022, Khalid appealed the Session Court’s Order before the Delhi High Court. 

Latest Developments 

29 April 2022

On 29 April 2022, Sharjeel Imam also appealed against the Delhi Session Court’s denial of his bail application two weeks earlier. On the 29th, the Delhi HC decided to hear both Khalid and Imam’s appeals together. In this hearing, Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar took note that the challenge to the constitutionality of sedition had resurfaced in the Supreme Court. They stated that they would hear the appeals after the SC’s decision in the case—‘no matter the bearing’ of the decision to the present appeals before the Delhi HC. On May 10th, the Court will decide whether to refer the sedition challenge to a 7-Judge Bench. 

6 May 2022

The SC will hear the appeals again on May 11th. Meanwhile, the Delhi HC will hear Khalid’s appeal on 19 and 20 May. Imam’s appeal will be heard on May 26th. READ MORE

20 May 2022

A Special Bench at the Delhi High Court debated over Khalid’s ‘seditious’ language at a speech delivered in Amravati, Maharashtra—only six days before the riots. It ordered that the matter be heard regularly from 23 May—so that hearings close before the Delhi High Court breaks for summer vacation on June 4th. READ MORE

23 May 2022

Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Umar Khalid before the Delhi High Court, pointed to the ‘misrepresentation’ of facts in the Delhi Police’s charge sheet. The counsel argued that these instances, along with the Sessions Court’s denial of bail, point to a consistent mischaracterisation of Khalid as a ‘terrorist’. READ MORE

24 May 2022

Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Umar Khalid before the Delhi High Court, continued describing ‘misrepresented’ facts. The counsel further argued that the Sessions Court Judge used questionable rationale while denying Mr. Khalid bail in March 2022. READ MORE

25 May 2022

Senior Advocate Trideep Pais locked horns with the Bench on whether it should examine the veracity of evidence gathered by an investigative agency when considering a bail application. Mr. Pais reiterated that the Delhi Police’s charge sheet against Mr. Khalid contained multiple inconsistencies. The matter will next be heard on 30 May 2022. READ MORE

30 May 2022

Senior Advocate Trideep Pais and Advocate Sanya Kumar argued that witness statements mentioned in the Delhi Police charge sheet contradicted other claims made against Mr. Khalid in the same document. Further, some witness statements had identical portions. The matter will next be heard on 4 July 2022, once the Delhi High Court reopens after its summer vacation. READ MORE

22 August 2022

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, representing the Delhi Police, highlighted the speeches made by Sharjeel Imam and Umar Khalid and argued that they led to the Delhi Riots in February 2020. He focused on the speeches made by Mr. Imam in January 2020 at Aligarh Muslim University and Asansol and claimed they represented his intent to cause disruptive activities which led to the riots. READ MORE

18 October 2022

The Delhi HC Bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnesh Bhatnagar rejected Umar Khalid’s plea for bail. They held that the prosecution’s case and the charge sheet make out a prima facie (at face value) case for the offences that Mr. Khalid has been accused of. These include participating in terrorist activities and criminal conspiracy under the UAPA.

18 November 2022

After being denied bail by the Delhi High Court on 18 October 2022, Khalid moved to the city’s Karkardooma court seeking a 2-week interim bail, reportedly, to attend his sister’s marriage ceremony.

3 December 2022

The Delhi Karkardooma Court acquitted Umar Khalid and United Against Hate founder, Khalid Saifi in connection to the ‘stone pelting’ case related to the February 2020 riots. Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala passed the order. Khalid and Saifi were accused of their alleged involvement in acts of rioting, vandalism and arson at a parking lot in northeast Delhi. However, Khalid and Saifi continued to be detained in connection with the broader conspiracy case behind the roids.

7 December 2022

The Delhi Karkardooma Court reserved its verdict on the two-week interim bail plea to attend his sister’s marriage. The Court was expected to pass the Order on 12 December 2022. 

12 December 2022

Indian activist Umar Khalid is granted a week-long reprieve on bail under specific conditions which include a gag order. The gag order prevented Khalid from talking to the media or giving interviews. He was only permitted to interact with family members, relatives and friends. This respite allowed Khalid a brief departure from the confines of the jail premises from 23 December to 30 December 2022.  

6 April 2023

Khalid filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court appealing against the Delhi High Court’s decision that rejected his bail in October 2022.

18 May 2023

A bench comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli issued a notice to the Delhi government and sought a response to Khalid’s petition within six weeks. The Bench granted liberty to Khalid to seek a listing of the matter before the vacation bench. The Court then posted the matter for further hearing after the summer vacation of the Supreme Court.

12 July 2023

The Delhi police requested extra time to adequately prepare their arguments due to the substantial volume of the charge sheet. Representing Khalid, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal stated that his client had been in jail for two years. He said that a hearing on his plea for personal liberty cannot be delayed any longer. The bench comprising Justices A.S.Bopanna and M.M.Sundresh rescheduled Khalid’s bail plea hearing on 24 July 2023.

24 July 2023

A division bench comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Bela M Trivedi adjourned the matter by a week in view of the letter circulated by Khalid’s lawyer seeking additional time.

9 August 2023

The matter is listed before a bench comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and P.K Mishra. Justice Mishra recused from hearing the petition. The next hearing date was set for 17 August 2023. 

17 August 2023

Umar Khalid’s bail plea was dropped from the Supreme Court cause list as it was listed before a bench comprising Justice A.S. Bopanna and P.K. Mishra. 

5 September 2023

Umar Khalid’s bail application was put before a division bench comprising Justices Bela Trivedi and Dipankar Datta. The bail hearing was adjourned by one week due to the unavailability of Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who was arguing before the abrogation of Article 370 Constitution Bench. 

12 September 2023

A division bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela Trivedi adjourned Khalid’s Bail application. It will be listed for hearings after one month.

12 October 2023

The Bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela Trivedi adjourned Khalid’s hearing citing “paucity of time”. Sibal proclaimed that he would prove that there was no case against Khalid in “20 minutes”. The bench fixed the date of hearing on 1 November 2023.

31 October 2023 

A Supreme Court bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela Trivedi tagged Khalid’s bail petition with other matters challenging the constitutionality of provisions in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The petitions include Khalid’s writ petition challenging the UAPA provisions, and the UAPA Charges Related to Tripura Violence where FIRs were filed against lawyers and journalists who undertook a fact-finding mission in the Tripura violence of October 2021. As Sibal was unavailable due to a Constitution Bench The next date of hearing was scheduled for 22 November 2023. 

29 November 2023 

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar and Advocate Prashant Bhushan pointed out that Khalid’s bail petition was tagged with larger petitions challenging the constitutionality of the UAPA. Bhushan contended that another tagged case related to the Tripura Violence has been heard eight times by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud. He suggested that the petition should be placed before the CJI so that he may reassign the bench to himself. Justice Trivedi disagreed and stated that she and the newly appointed Justice S.C. Sharma would hear the cases listed before their bench. They allowed Bhushan to move an application at his own discretion. 

The petitioners were looking to de-tag Khalid’s bail petition, as all other matters concerned the constitutionality of the UAPA provisions. Counsels on the part of the Union pointed out that the bail petition was tagged at the petitioner’s request. The Bench was unconvinced by the petitioner’s motion.

Due to the unavailability of Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju and Sibal, the hearing was pushed to January 2024. 

Umar Khalid has not received a single substantive bail hearing in 2023. 

10 January 2024

A Bench comprising Justices Bela Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal heard the parties briefly before commencing regular hearings for the day. ASG S.V. Raju was absent again and his representative sought an additional week to respond. The Bench contemplated hearing the case on 17 January 2024. Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Huzefa Ahmadi however, sought for it to be listed on 24 January 2024 instead. “No matter what we will start that day,” Sibal said, after the Bench accepted their request.

24 January 2024

The case was listed before a Bench of Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Ujjal Bhuyan. It came up for hearing around 12:45 p.m. Senior Advocate C.U. Singh, appearing for Khalid, requested an adjournment as the Bench was to rise at 1 p.m and Justice Trivedi was to join a Special Bench at 2 p.m. The Bench agreed and decided to hear the case next on 31 January “high on the board”.

31 January 2024

A bench comprising Justices Bela Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal was scheduled to hear the plea today. However, due to Justice Mithal’s unavailability, the newly appointed Justice P.B. Varale joined Justice Trivedi instead. 

For most of the day, the Bench was occupied with cases involving the Directorate of Enforcement. At around 3:30 p.m., Justice Trivedi announced that Khalid’s bail petition would be taken up tomorrow, 1 February 2024. 

However, just as the Bench rose, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Khalid, sought for the case to be listed on another day as he would be occupied in the Constitution Bench examining Aligarh Muslim University’s minority on 1 February 2024. The Bench responded, “We’ll see.”

1 February 2024

A Bench of Justices Trivedi and Mithal adjourned hearings and listed the petition for 7 February 2024.

7 February 2024 

Khalid’s petition was listed in the alternate list as Justices Bela Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal were occupied in a Constitution Bench on the validity of sub-classification within the SC/ST reserved categories.

14 February 2024

Khalid withdrew his petition from the Supreme Court “due to change in circumstance.” Sibal, appearing for Khalid, said that he would try his luck in a trial court.

 (this bail application tracker was last updated on 14 February 2024)