Delhi riots: Probe pending in half the cases, say police
Of the total 758 cases registered in connection with communal riots in north-east Delhi in February last year, the city police has completed the investigation and filed charge sheets only in 361 cases as on October 4, the Delhi high court was informed on Thursday.Even in cases where the charge sheet has been filed, trial has begun in just over 67 cases (18%), Delhi police told the court.
The police also added that four cases have been quashed by the Delhi high court and accused have been acquitted in one case.
In a status report filed before a bench of chief justice DN Patel and justice Jyoti Singh, the city police said that of the total, 695 cases are being probed by the local police and charge sheets were filed in 315 cases. It further said that of the 695 cases, charges have been framed in 56 cases and in two cases, the accused were given a clean chit even before the trial started.
The status report was filed by special public prosecutor Rajat Nair, appearing for the Delhi Police, in a batch of petitions related to the last year’s violence.
Communal clashes broke out in north-east Delhi in February 2020, after a standoff between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act supporters and opposers got out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
On Thursday, the court asked the police to file an updated status report and posted the matter for hearing on January 28.
“We direct the respondent (Delhi Police) to file a further detailed affidavit giving details of cases pending before the trial courts,” the court said, noting the present affidavit was not on its record.
The city police informed that the legal process in all pending cases is at an advanced stage.
“Out of 758 cases registered, 695 cases are being investigated by north-east district police. 62 cases that pertained to major incidents like murders etc were transferred to the crime branch, which had undertaken an investigation in the said cases by employing 3 dedicated special investigating teams (SITs), being continuously monitored by the superior officers. One case of larger conspiracy behind the engineering of the communal riots in Delhi is being investigated in special cell,” the affidavit stated.
It said that all cases are investigated promptly, diligently, fairly, and in accordance with the law and that there is no ground to transfer the cases to a fresh SIT.
“The same is manifested from the orders passed by this court, while considering the bail application of the accused, where this court has been pleased to dismiss the bails, on the basis of material available against the accused belonging to both communities,” it said.
The court is hearing several petitions including a plea which has alleged that several politicians gave hate speeches in the lead up to the riots. Apart from seeking action against those who allegedly gave the hate speeches, some pleas have also sought other reliefs, including setting up of an SIT, FIRs against police officers who were allegedly involved in the violence, and disclosure of persons arrested and detained.
The court has also been hearing a PIL by Delhi resident Ajay Gautam seeking an NIA probe under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) law into the violence.
The petition has urged the court to direct the Centre to order the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to find out the “anti-national forces” behind the agitations and to probe the role of Popular Front of India (PFI) which is allegedly “funding, motivating and supporting the protests”.
In its response, the police had earlier told the court that it had already created three SITs under the crime branch and that there was no evidence till now that its officers were involved in the violence. It had added that the families of people arrested and detained in connection with the riots had been informed.