Tanha bail plea: Delhi HC seeks unredacted statements of protected witnesses
The Delhi high court on Wednesday directed a trial court to give in a sealed cover the unredacted statements of protected witnesses for deciding the bail plea of Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha.
Tanha was arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in May last year for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the north-east Delhi riots that happened in February last year.
“The trial court is directed to forward the original unredacted statements of protected witnesses in a sealed cover to this court on or before the next date of hearing, that is, April 14,” said a bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani.
With this direction, it allowed and disposed of an application by the Delhi Police seeking to call for unredacted statements of protected witnesses in a sealed cover from the trial court. Names and personal details of protected witnesses are redacted in their statements.
The high court, which had on March 18 reserved its order on Tanha’s bail plea, had asked the police to file written submissions, unredacted copies of witness statements and other relevant documents.
During the proceedings, the court also frowned on the prosecution for the absence of unredacted statements of the witnesses with them.
Special public prosecutor (SPP) Rajat Nair, representing the police, said these are protected witnesses and the unredacted copies are with the trial court only. He pointed out that when the investigating officer had applied for protection of witnesses, the statements were signed and sealed by the trial court judge and redacted copies were given to the investigation officer.
Tanha has challenged a trial court’s October 26, 2020, order which dismissed his bail application.