Delhi riots: Khalid says trial pending since two years, urges HC to grant him bail
Arguing that trial in the main conspiracy case of the 2020 north-east Delhi riots has been pending in the lower court since the past two years, and appeared unlikely to start anytime soon, former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid urged the Delhi high court to grant him bail
Arguing that trial in the main conspiracy case of the 2020 north-east Delhi riots has been pending in the lower court since the past two years, and appeared unlikely to start anytime soon, former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid urged the Delhi high court to grant him bail.
Putting forward the last leg of his arguments before a bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar, Khalid’s counsel, senior advocate Trideep Pais, said the case in the trial court is still at the stage of scrutiny of documents.
Pais said mere membership of a WhatsApp group cannot make Khalid criminally liable when nothing objectionable has been attributed to him.
“Is it illegal to be a member of a WhatsApp group unless you commit any illegality?” Pais asked before the bench, which is hearing Khalid’s plea challenging the trial court’s March 24 order denying him bail.
Speaking for Khalid, Pais said, “The fact that I was part of two WhatsApp groups, out of five cited against me in which I remained silent, cannot make me criminally liable. I am not saying there was anything criminal in those groups.”
“I am not an administrator, I am merely a member of the group. Admins are someone else. There was nothing else objectionable attributed to me. If someone else has said something, that cannot be put at my door,” Pais said.
After the counsel concluded his submissions, the court listed the matter for hearing arguments of the public prosecutor to August 1. The court also asked Pais to file written submissions.
When the court asked what the allegations were against Khalid, Pais replied, “Silent whisper. There is no direct act attributed to me, except for the speech.”
Khalid was arrested on September 13, 2020, and has been in custody since then.
Besides Khalid, activist Khalid Saifi, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have been booked under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots, which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
The violence had erupted during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.