New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday granted interim bail to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who was arrested on sedition charges.

Judge Prathiba Rani asked a faculty member of JNU to stand as surety for Kumar. He is also required to furnish a bail bond worth 10,000. “He may have any political affiliation or ideology. He has every right to pursue that but it can be only within the framework of our Constitution," the court said in a 23-page order.

“His name also doesn’t appear on the poster about the topic of that event, contents of which were considered anti-national by JNU authorities. The petitioner has not been seen raising anti-national slogans in any of the video footage," the high court said disagreeing with the stance of the Delhi Police. In its status report filed on 24 February, the Delhi Police told the court that Kumar had actively participated in raising anti-national slogans.

However, it seems the high court has not taken lightly the incident in JNU on 9 February.

“I consider this as a kind of infection from which such students are suffering which needs to be controlled/cured before it becomes an epidemic," Pratibha Rani said.

Kumar’s bail plea was moved to the Delhi high court after the Supreme Court refused to hear it on 19 February. The apex court had observed that if it entertained a bail plea, it would set a wrong precedent and directed that it be expeditiously heard by the Delhi high court. A bench comprising justices J. Chelameswar and A.M. Sapre had noted that it would be a “dangerous proposition"to entertain the plea directly, as it will open the gates for all accused to come to the apex court.

Kanhaiya was arrested on 12 February on sedition charges for allegedly raising “anti-national" slogans relating to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru at an event held on JNU campus to commemorate Guru’s execution.

On 17 February, Kanhaiya was presented before Patiala House district court where he, along with journalists, was attacked by a group of men in lawyers’ robes. He was sent to judicial custody till 2 March.

Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, two JNU students accused in the sedition case, are in judicial custody till 15 March.

Priyanka Mittal contributed to the story.

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