Parliament security breach: Delhi High Court refuses accused Neelam Azad’s urgent hearing on police remand

Azad had alleged that her police remand was illegal as she was not allowed to consult a legal practitioner of her choice.


Published Dec 28, 2023 | 12:36 PMUpdatedDec 28, 2023 | 12:36 PM

Parliament security breach: Accused Neelam outside the Parliament. (Screengrab)

The Delhi High Court, on Thursday, 28 December, refused urgent listing of a plea by Neelam Azad, a woman arrested in the 13 December Parliament security breach case, who alleged that her police remand was illegal as she was not allowed to consult a legal practitioner of her choice to defend her during the trial court proceedings.

The matter was mentioned for urgent hearing by her lawyer before a Vacation Bench of Justices Neena Bansal Krishna and Shalinder Kaur, which said that there was no urgency in the matter.

“In any case it will be taken up on 3 January. There is no urgency,” the Bench said.

Azad’s lawyer said that she has challenged her remand order and, on 5 January, her police custody was getting over.

Turning down the request, the court responded there was still “enough time” for the hearing to take place before the remand came to an end.

Also Read: Accused Neelam Azad moves Delhi HC, calls police remand illegal

Azad claims ‘detention is illegal’

In her petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus directing her production before the high court, as well as an order to “set her at liberty”, Azad said that being disallowed to consult a lawyer of her choice amounted to violation of her fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution, making the remand order unlawful.

Under Indian laws, a detainee or a person on their behalf can file a habeas corpus petition in a high court or the Supreme Court for their production if they feel they have been detained illegally.

Upon production, if the court concerned concludes that the detention is illegal, it can order their release.

“Upon her arrest, the petitioner’s family wasn’t informed. It was informed only in the evening of 14 December 2023. Further, she wasn’t permitted to meet any person including advocates, which is mandatory under Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India. Even at the court, a single DLSA (Delhi Legal Services Authority) counsel was appointed to all the accused persons without giving them any choice among counsels,” the plea, filed through lawyer Suresh Kumar, alleged.

“The remand order dated 21 December 2023 is illegal and violative of Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India, which mandates the accused person to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice, whereas in the present case the petitioner’s advocate wasn’t permitted to take instructions and defend the petitioner prior to the disposal of the remand application,” the plea added.

The petition also said that Azad was produced before the trial court on 14 December “after a period of 29 hours from the time of arrest.”

Article 22(2) of the Constitution says that every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours of arrest, excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court of the magistrate and no such person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period without the authority of a magistrate

Recently, the high court stayed the trial court’s direction to the police to supply a copy of the FIR to Azad, noting that it is a case of sensitive nature and, according to a judgement of the Supreme Court, FIRs in sexual offences, offences pertaining to insurgency, terrorism, and those under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act are not to be uploaded on website of the authorities.

Also Read: Accused part of 6 WhatsApp groups named after Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad

The incident

In a major security breach on the anniversary of the 2001 Parliament terror attack on 13 December, two people — Sagar Sharma and Manoranjan D — jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber from the public gallery during Zero Hour, released yellow gas from canisters, and shouted slogans before being overpowered by some MPs.

Around the same time, two others — Amol Shinde and Neelam Azad — also sprayed coloured gas from canisters while shouting “tanashahi nahi chalegi” outside the Parliament House premises.

Besides the four accused, police have also arrested Lalit Jha and Mahesh Kumawat in the case. All are being interrogated in police custody.

The trial court extended till 5 January the police custody of all six accused, including Azad, arrested in the Parliament security breach case, after the city police said that they needed to uncover all those involved in the conspiracy.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)