No coercive action against Sharjeel Usmani if he co-operates with investigation, orders Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed Muslim student activist Sharjeel Usmani to appear before the Pune Police after being assured by the Maharashtra government that no coercive steps will be taken against him if he appears for interrogation, legal website Bar and Bench reported.

Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale issued notice in the plea filed by Usmani for quashing the First Information Report (FIR) accusing him of making “hateful speeches” in Elgar Parishad 2021 edition.

Senior lawyer Mihir Desai, appearing for Usmani, informed court that Usmani had been summoned by the Pune police for interrogation on Wednesday. Desai raised apprehension that if Usmani goes for interrogation, he may be arrested by the police.

The court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on his plea to Monday.

Following a complaint lodged by the Pune regional secretary of BJYM, a Hindu fringe group, at the Swargate police station in Pune, on 2 February Pune Police booked Usmani under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code.

In his petition to Bombay HC, Usmani said the FIR is “frivolous and baseless” and has been registered on the basis of a select few statements taken out of context.