Neelam Azad’s plea for urgent hearing rejected by Delhi HC in Parliament security breach case

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Who is Neelam Azad and why was she arrested?

Neelam Azad is one of the four accused who were arrested by the Delhi Police on December 13, 2023, for allegedly breaching the security of the Parliament during a protest outside the building. She, along with Sagar Sharma, Manoranjan D, and Amol Shinde, had entered the Lok Sabha chamber with canisters emitting smoke, causing panic and disruption in the proceedings. The police registered a case against them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

What was her plea before the Delhi High Court?

Neelam Azad, through her lawyer Advocate Suresh Kumar, filed a petition before the Delhi High Court seeking a writ of habeas corpus directing her production before the court as well as an order to set her at liberty. She alleged that her arrest was illegal and in contravention of Article 22(1) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to consult a legal practitioner of one’s choice. She also claimed that she was denied access to a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) and the grounds of her arrest, which violated her fundamental rights.

How did the Delhi High Court respond to her plea?

The Delhi High Court rejected the urgent listing of Neelam Azad’s plea, saying that there was still enough time for the hearing to take place before the remand came to an end. The court also noted that the case was of a sensitive nature and the FIR was not supposed to be uploaded on the website of the authorities as per the directions of the Supreme Court and the mandate of the law. The court further said that the accused had to approach the Commissioner of Police, who would form a committee of three officers to decide the grievance within three days from the date of receiving the representation and communicate it to the aggrieved person. If the request for supplying a copy of the FIR was denied by the committee, only then could the accused move the court for relief.

Neelam Azad’s plea

What was the order of the special court that the Delhi Police challenged?

On December 21, 2023, a special court at Patiala House, presided over by Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur, directed the Delhi Police to provide Neelam Azad with a copy of the FIR related to the Parliament security breach case, despite strong opposition from the Special Public Prosecutor Akhand Pratap Singh. The court said that the accused was entitled to a copy of the FIR as per law and that the investigating officer concerned had to furnish it to her. The court also allowed Neelam Azad to meet her lawyer every alternate day for 15 minutes, stating that she was entitled to legal assistance even in police custody.

What is the status of the investigation and the trial in the case?

The Delhi Police moved the Delhi High Court against the special court’s order, seeking a stay on its execution. The High Court stayed the order till January 4, 2024, and issued notice to Neelam Azad through the concerned Investigating Officer. The police argued that the case was of a sensitive nature and the FIR was sealed due to the ongoing investigation, with some accused still at large. The police also expressed concerns that any leakage of information could potentially influence the investigation. The High Court will hear the matter on January 4, 2024, and decide on the validity of the special court’s order. Meanwhile, the investigation and the trial in the case are continuing as per the law.

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