Delhi riots: HC grants bail to three men accused of murder, rioting

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The Delhi High Court has granted bail to three men, accused of murdering a person and injuring his son while being part of an unlawful assembly which indulged in stone pelting during the communal violence in north east Delhi last year.

The high court directed that accused – Shabir Ali, Mehtab and Rais Ahmed – be released on bail on furnishing of a personal bond of ₹ 25,000 each along with a surety of the like amount.

Justice Mukta Gupta said the issue in these bail applications is whether the petitioners accused were part of the unlawful assembly which in order to fulfil its object caused injuries to Nitin Kumar and death of his father Vinod Kumar in Brahmpuri gali in north east Delhi in February 2020.

The court said the subsequent forming of an unlawful assembly at a different place, that is, gali no.1 Akhadewali gali will not implicate the petitioners as members of an unlawful assembly for causing the offences at gali no.1 Brahmpuri gali.

“Keeping in view the fact that the petitioners even though were present as members of a mob at gali no.1 Akhadewali gali after 11 p.m. when some members of this mob were armed with sarias, dandas, stones, swords, knives etc., however, there is no material even prima facie on record to show that the petitioners were members of mob that was present at Gali no.1 Brahmpuri at around 10.30 p.m. which indulged in pelting stones causing injuries to Nitin and death of Vinod Kumar, this court deems it fit to grant bail to the petitioners,” the court said.

Advocate Pritish Sabharwal, representing Shabir Ali, submitted that even as per the prosecution, Ali was seen for just two seconds coming out of the gali wearing vest and was admittedly not armed with any weapon and even the face of the person in vest was not clear to be that of this accused.

He further said the call detail records of Ali have no relevance for the reason that he was residence of the same place and his location would be in that lane and that no injured witness had stated that Ali was part of the mob which caused injuries to the two victims resulting in death of one of them at gali no.1 Brahmpuri.

The counsel for the other two accused also said merely because they along with other people of Akhadewali gali, had gathered at the corner of the lane at February 24, 2020 night in view of the information pouring in that time, it cannot be attributed as the common object of the mob which committed the murder of Vinod and injured Nitin in Brahmpuri.

The prosecutor contended that during the riots in Delhi’s north east district on the intervening night of February 23-24, last year, mobs had gathered at various points and each one was acting in support and tandem with the others.

He claimed that as gali no.1, Brahmpuri and gali no.1, Akhadewali Gali are in the vicinity and hence people were travelling/ walking down from one lane to another causing riots resulting in injuries and deaths of the victims and added that CCTV cameras installed in front of an ATM there was not working and footage could not be collected.

The court said at this stage, it will not appreciate evidence to find out whether the members of the unlawful assembly were curious onlookers or were acting in concert pursuant to a common object.

“There is no prima facie material available with the prosecution from the statements of the eye witnesses or the video clips of the mobile phones to show that the petitioners were part of the mob which caused unlawful activity at gali no.1, Brahmpuri resulting in injuries to Nitin Kumar and death of his father. A subsequent collection of mob at another place may be for a different object and the petitioners may be prosecuted for the same and not for the common object of pelting stones and causing injuries to Nitin and his father,” the court said.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24, 2020 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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This article was originally published on The Hindu