Delhi High Court vacates interim stay on 2020 Delhi violence trial

The Delhi Police had named 15 accused under UAPA in connection with the riots that erupted in northeast Delhi in February 2020.
Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court
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The Delhi High Court has vacated its interim order staying trial in a case relating to alleged conspiracy which led to the northeast riots in February last year after the police informed that the hard copy of the charge sheet is ready and the accused can collect it. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, who had stayed trial in the case on November 10 last year, noted in its order on Tuesday the statement made by the prosecutor that the hard copy of the charge sheet is ready and accused are at liberty to collect it.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, appearing for the state, submitted that complete hard copy of the charge sheet is ready and the accused are at liberty to collect the same from the trial court on March 25, the next date fixed there.

To this, the high court said, “In view of above, no further order is required to be passed and the same is, accordingly, disposed of with pending application. Accordingly, the interim order is vacated.”

The high court was hearing a plea by Delhi Police challenging a trial court's order directing it to provide to the accused hard copies of the voluminous charge sheet filed in a case related to the northeast Delhi riots in February last year.

The police had sought to set aside trial court's September 21 and October 21, 2020 orders, directing the investigating agency to supply the physical copy of the charge sheet along with documents to the accused persons without appreciating the submissions made on behalf of the State.

The trial court has erred and passed a mechanical order dated September 21, 2020 directing supply of physical copy of charge sheet ignoring the submissions of the State as also the legal provisions.

The trial court allowed the application under Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure filed by the accused for supply of physical copy of the charge sheet in violation of the law of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the petition had said.

The police, in its plea, had said that the report itself runs into about 2,700 pages and the total number of documents and statements of witnesses are running into about 18,000 pages and there are 23 volumes including the police report which were filed before the trial court.

The plea had said the general law mandates that a hard copy is to be made available to the accused, however, the proviso also indicates that an exception is provided by the legislation that if the documents are voluminous in nature then, instead of furnishing a copy thereof, the court can direct that accused be allowed to inspect it either personally or through pleader in court.

But the police have in fact supplied the e-copy/ soft copy of the charge sheet in pen drive to the accused persons and there is no travesty of justice if hard copy is not made available to them, it had said.

The trial court had refused to grant time to the police to obtain funds' sanction to provide to the accused hard copies of the voluminous charge sheet filed in a case, saying they were supposed to act promptly.

It had on October 9, 2020 directed the police to file fresh copies of the charge sheet after it was informed that they had "inadvertently" put a document containing the details of some protected witnesses in the copies supplied to the accused booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the case.

The Special Cell of the Delhi Police had charge sheeted 15 accused under the provisions of stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the violence that erupted in the northeast parts of the national capital in February, 2020.

The accused include Pinjra Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, Gulfisha Khatoon, former Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Shafa-Ur-Rehman, suspended AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain, activist Khalid Saifi, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Salim Malik, Mohd Salim Khan and Athar Khan.

They have been charge sheeted for allegedly being part of a larger conspiracy in the riots.

JNU student Sharjeel Imam and former JNU student leader Umar Khalid have also been arrested under the anti-terror law in the case but not charge sheeted yet.

Communal violence had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 last year after clashes between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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