Court sets Aug 30 to record evidence in Irom Sharmila case

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NEW DELHI, May 22 (Agencies): A Delhi Court has fixed August 30 for recording of prosecution evidence in a case against rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu for allegedly attempting suicide during her fast-unto-death in New Delhi in 2006. The Manipuri activist has been on a fast for over 12 years demanding repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur.

Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain, who had earlier scheduled the matter for Wednesday for recording testimony of prosecution evidence, fixed the matter for August 30 after 40-year-old Sharmila could not appear in the court. The court allowed the plea of Sharmila`s counsel who sought her exemption from personal appearance for Wednesday.

Earlier on March 4, the court had put the rights activist on trial after she had refused to plead guilty for the offence of attempting to commit suicide (Section 309 of IPC). If convicted, Sharmila, who is out on bail in this case, faces a maximum jail term of one year.

Popularly known as the “Iron Lady”, Sharmila had earlier said her`s was a non-violent protest. She has been on fast since 2000.

She had rejected the charge that she had attempted suicide in 2006 and had told the court, “I do not want to commit suicide. Mine is only a non-violent protest. It is my demand to live as a human being. I love life. I do not want to take my life but I want justice and peace.”

While framing charges, the court had said, “It is alleged against you (Sharmila) that you on October 4, 2006 at about 8 pm sat at Jantar Mantar on a fast unto death uptil 11.30 pm on October 6, 2006 and refused to get your medical check up and thereby, committed an act with an intention or knowledge that under such circumstances that death may be caused and thereby, committed an offence under Sec 309 of IPC.”

Earlier, Sharmila`s counsel had requested the magistrate that due to ill-health condition, the activist may not be asked to appear before the court again and again.

The magistrate, however, had said that if she would not be able to appear, an appropriate application for exemption should be moved on her behalf but the court cannot pass a blanket order. The counsel had said Sharmila had already undergone one- year in judicial custody which is the maximum sentence for the offence under Sec 309 of the IPC.

The activist, who stays in Manipur, had told the court earlier in March , “If AFSPA will be repealed by the government, then only I will take food and will take out the food pipe,” through which she is fed.

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