The Delhi High Court Tuesday dismissed the bail plea of activist Umar Khalid in connection with the case of the alleged larger conspiracy behind the Northeast Delhi riots in 2020.
Dismissing his bail plea, a division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar stated that they did not “find any merit” in it.
The judgment authored by Justice Bhatnagar upheld the trial court’s decision which held that the accusations against Khalid are “prima facie true”.
Khalid had moved the HC against the order of Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, Karkardooma District Court who had rejected Khalid’s regular bail application.
In a 52 page judgment, the HC observed, “The Ld Sessions Judge did not miss the wood for the trees and has extensively dealt with the contention of the rival parties to arrive at a just decision, which cannot be faulted, especially when at the stage of bail, the Ld Judge was mandated to only be satisfied to the extent of accusation being prima facie true and not conduct a mini trial..”
The HC has held that there appears to be a “premeditated conspiracy” for causing disruptive chakka jam and pre planned protest at different sites in Delhi, which was engineered to escalate to confrontational chakka jam and incitement of violence and culminate in riots in natural course on specific dates.
“The protest planned was not a typical protest normal in political culture or democracy but one far more destructive and injurious geared towards extremely grave consequences,” it said.
The Delhi Police have booked Khalid under several provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), The Arms Act, and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. He was arrested on September 13, 2020, and has been in custody since.
Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, representing Khalid, had submitted that five WhatsApp groups have been cited in the Delhi Police’s charge sheet but he was a member of only two and out of them posted messages in only one. The four messages included the location of a protest site and information regarding his communication with a police officer who wanted people to de-escalate the protests, said Pais.
“No eyewitness or any witness speaks of his presence in any situation of violence in any part of Delhi during the protest against CAA. Not a single witness of alleged violence has spoken against him,” said Pais, adding the statements against him are very proximate to his arrest “indicating some material was being built up just before his arrest”.
Regarding the 17 incidents mentioned in the charge sheet, Pais said there are no witnesses for eight of them. Rhetorical statements about the extent the protest has to be taken do not amount to terrorist activity, contended Pais. “In any way, they are not connected to actual violence,” he said.
Challenging the allegation of conspiracy in the case, Pais further said the 17 incidents have no connection with each other except that they were opposed to CAA and spoke about Chaka Jam and protest. Pais also argued that the only commonality between Khalid’s speeches and the statements given by co-accused, including Sharjeel Imam, is their vehement opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Defending its case and opposing the bail appeal of Khalid, the prosecution during its arguments read the speeches made by co-accused Sharjeel Imam, the WhatsApp chats of various accused and the statements given by witnesses to it. Appearing for Delhi the Police, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad submitted during arguments that Khalid acted as a “silent whisperer” and was one of the “brains behind the protest and riots”.