Delhi riots: HC dismisses student activist’s claim of illegal detention
The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed student activist Gulfisha Fatima’s claim of illegal detention in connection to the northeast Delhi riots, saying it was “completely misplaced” and “not maintainable”.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said the writ of habeas corpus does not apply in respect of a person who is in judicial custody. A habeas corpus petition is filed seeking direction to produce a person who is missing or illegally detained.
“The facts will show that the petitioner is in judicial custody and detention, therefore, cannot be termed as illegal,” the bench said.
It further said if Fatima is aggrieved by court orders passed in judicial proceedings before the trial court, she can challenge them before the appropriate forum in proper proceedings.
“This petition is completely misplaced and not maintainable. Same is accordingly dismissed,” the bench said.
Fatima was arrested on April 11 last year and is currently under judicial custody. Besides this case, she is also accused in three other riots related cases.
In the habeas corpus petition, Fatima, through her sibling, claimed that her custody in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case relating to the alleged larger conspiracy that led to the northeast Delhi riots last year was illegal, and that she should thus be released.
During the hearing, the bench asked advocate Jatin Bhatt, representing Fatima, whether he was willing to withdraw the plea as it was of the view that the writ of habeas corpus was not maintainable in this case. To this, the counsel said his instructions were not to withdraw.
Advocate Amit Mahajan, representing Delhi Police, said the habeas corpus petition filed by Fatima was not maintainable and that it deserves to be dismissed with cost as it is nothing but a blatant abuse of the process of law.
He also told the court that a habeas corpus petition by Fatima’s brother seeking the same relief was dismissed by the high court last year.
On July 5, another bench of the high court refused to hear the matter after taking strong exception to Fatima’s advocate Mehmood Pracha, for taking recourse to “heckling” and placing reliance on facts that were not on record.
Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24, 2020, leaving at least 53 people dead and over 700 injured.