No response from cops on plea seeking digital evidence: JNU students

Additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat was informed by the counsels for the Pinjra Tod members that they have been accused of delaying the trial, but they have been waiting for a reply from the police for five months.
Natasha Narwal (left), and Devangana Kalita were released from prison on June 17. (PTI file photo)
Natasha Narwal (left), and Devangana Kalita were released from prison on June 17. (PTI file photo)
Published on Sep 11, 2021 01:31 AM IST
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By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, accused in the conspiracy case related to the Delhi riots, on Friday informed a Delhi court that the police are yet to respond to their plea seeking electronic evidence filed five months ago.

Additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat was informed by the counsels for the Pinjra Tod members that they have been accused of delaying the trial, but they have been waiting for a reply from the police for five months.

“We moved this application in April. Five months have passed. We haven’t received a reply yet.”

Special public prosecutor Amit Prasad told the court that a large amount of data had to be analysed, and there was also the question of privacy involved in this matter.

“What they are asking for is all the digital data that has been seized. What has happened is, during the course of investigation, the agency called various people and they were interrogated. Volume of data that has come out is huge. That data contains personal data of people whose equipment is seized. I will infringe upon their privacy.

“It contains their financial data and their personal data…..For me to say that I will give to X and not Y, I need to have a basis for that. We need to do analysis before filing a reply. I need to come to a conclusion that these are the data, these are the equipment etc. That is the reason it is going to take time. There is no shortcut method,” the SPP submitted.

The two students were released from jail on June 17, along with Asif Iqbal Tanha, another student activist. They were held for allegedly instigating the February 2020 Delhi riots -- charges they deny.

Following arguments, the court asked the prosecution to file its reply.

During the hearing, United Against Hate (UAH) member Khalid Saifi, another accused in the case, said that he would have to stop saying the greeting “As-salamu alaykum”, in case it is illegal.

Saifi’s remarks came days after the police said JNU student Sharjeel Imam, who is also an accused in the case, began one of his alleged inflammatory speeches with “As-salamu alaykum”, which shows it was addressed to a particular community and not the public at large.

“I always greet my friends with salaam. I think I will have to stop it in case it is illegal. Is it a law or presumption of the prosecution team?” Saifi asked the court.

His query impelled ASJ Rawat to clarify that it was the prosecution’s argument and not the word of the court. The exchange took place through video conference.

On September 1, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad read out a January 16, 2020 speech given by Sharjeel Imam in Aligarh and said: “He (Sharjeel Imam) begins this speech by saying As-salamu alaykum, which shows that it is only subjected to one community”.

Furthermore, Saifi said that whenever he gets a bail, he will file a case in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the police for wasting two million of precious papers on charge sheet in the conspiracy case.

He, along with several others, has been booked under the anti-terror law in the case. They are accused of being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 violence, which had left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

Apart from him, former JNU student leader Umar Khalid, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain and several others have also been booked under the stringent law in the case.

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Saturday, October 16, 2021