JNU row: SC rejects Kanhaiya's bail plea, tells him to approach HC

The Supreme Court today declined to entertain the bail plea of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and asked him to approach the Delhi High Court first.

While transferring the bail plea of Kanhaiya, who has been charged with sedition, to the lower court, the bench took an assurance from Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar that in the "prevailing extraordinary situation" pertaining to this matter, the union government and the Delhi Police Commissioner would provide adequate safety and security to the accused and to a stream of lawyers who will be appearing in the High Court.

Kanhaiya on Thursday moved a petition before the apex court seeking his release from police custody under Article 32 of the Constitution. He had stated in the plea that he "fears for the safety of life and limb" at the Delhi sessions court, due to which he had approached the SC directly.

But Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre said it would send a signal that lower courts are incapable of dealing with security concerns of litigant, and encourage all high-profile accused to come to the top court directly for bail.

Kumar's lawyers said they would move the high court later today.

Kumar was arrested for sedition a week ago and has been sent to Tihar Jail in judicial custody till 2 March.

Senior lawyer Raju Ramachandran, who is representing Kumar, said that the high court is in the vicinity of the Patiala House court, where violence broke out twice and where the student was attacked by lawyers on Wednesday.

"Lawyers of both courts are protesting against Kanhaiya," Ramachandran said. The Supreme Court, however, declined to take up the petition.

Calling it an "extraordinary case in prevailing circumstances," the court said, "People should not think only Supreme Court is capable of providing security and not the other courts."

Kumar was arrested a week ago for allegedly making anti-national statements at an event on 9 February in support of hanged terrorist Afzal Guru, where anti-India slogans were raised.

In his bail petition to the Supreme Court, Kumar had also cited a perceived threat to his life in the prison where he fears he might be attacked by co-prisoners.

The student leader was beaten up on Wednesday by a group of lawyers while he was being taken into the Patiala House court for his hearing. He was also slapped while he was waiting for the hearing. He suffered injuries on his face and legs.

The lawyers had defied the Supreme Court's orders banning protests and barged into the court complex before the hearing. They also assaulted reporters, accusing them of being "anti-national".

The Supreme Court sent five lawyers to assess the riot. That group, which includes Rajeev Dhawan and Kapil Sibal, told the top court that there was "an atmosphere of fear and terrorising" in the lower court and that the police failed at even basic crowd control.

The senior lawyers met Kumar and said he appeared "terrorised". They also said they were abused relentlessly on their visit and that pieces of flower pots and stones were hurled at them.

Meanwhile, scores of left-wing supporter students today blocked the Darbhanga-New Delhi Bihar Sampark Kranti Express, demanding the release of Kumar.

The Delhi Police has also submitted its report on Patiala House Court violence in SC. It has not sought extension of police remand for Kanhaiya Kumar.