Delhi riots: HC vacates stay, trial court to hear arguments in conspiracy case
The Delhi high court has lifted the stay on the trial case for conspiracy the north-east Delhi riots, paving the way for a city court to commence arguments on framing of charges against several accused, including student activist Umar Khalid, suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, and others.
Earlier, in November 2020, the high court stayed the trial after the police challenged an order by the trial court to supply hard copies of the 17,500-page charge sheet to all 15 accused. The HC, however, allowed the trial court to hear any application being filed in the case.
On March 23, Justice Suresh Kait vacated the stay on the trial after the police, represented by Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Amit Prasad told the court that complete hard copy of the charge sheet is ready and the accused may collect it from the Karkardooma court on March 25, when the case is next listed for hearing.
The court said, “In view of above, no further order is required to be passed and the same is, accordingly, disposed of with pending application…. Accordingly, interim order is vacated”.
Delhi police’s special cell had challenged the legality and validity of September 21 and October 21 orders by additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat, directing the police to supply physical copy of the charge sheet.
On October 9, the trial court judge directed the police to file fresh copies of the charge sheet after being told that the police “have inadvertently” put a document in it which contained the details of some of the protected witnesses and its copies were supplied to the accused booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The judge directed the police to file fresh copies of the charge sheet, redacting the details of the protected witnesses and supply it to the persons charge-sheeted in the case and their counsel.
On October 21, the investigating officer told the court that he has submitted 16 new pen drives containing the redacted version of the charge sheet and accompanying documents in terms of the earlier order.
However, the court directed the accused and their counsel to be provided with both the hard and soft copies of the fresh charge sheet.
The judge also said that the court was not impressed with the submission of the investigating officer who had sought 15 days time for the sanction for funds from the Delhi government for taking out the hard copies for every accused. The judge directed the police to supply the documents at the earliest.
Challenging these orders in the high court, the city police contended that the mandate of law under section 207 of CrPC is to provide “copy” of each of the report/ statements/ document subject to reasonable exception. It said that law does not specify supply of “hard copy” or “soft copy” nor does it draw any distinction between “hard copy” or “soft copy”.
Till date, the city police has filed three charge sheets, including two supplementary charge sheets, against several accused —former JNU student Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Pinjra Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, Gulfisha Khatoon, former Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Shafa-Ur-Rehman, suspended AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain, activist Khalid Saifi, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Salim Malik, Mohd Salim Khan and Athar Khan.-- for allegedly being part of a larger conspiracy in the riots that broke out in February 2020 in various localities of north-east Delhi.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court on Wednesday directed the police to ensure safety and security of Umar Khalid while bringing him for the proceedings in a case related to the riots.
Chief metropolitan magistrate Dinesh Kumar directed the Tihar Jail superintendent, DCP (Deputy commissioner of police) and DAP (Delhi Armed Police) to ensure safety and security of Khalid while bringing him to the court and taking him back to the prison.
Khalid had moved an application seeking directions for his security during his physical production in the court for the remand proceedings.
He was arrested in October last year in the case of violence in Khajuri Khas area. Suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain is also an accused in the case. He was also arrested in September, 2020, under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in another case related to a conspiracy in the riots.