A Delhi court on Thursday, April 15, granted bail to former JNU student union leader Umar Khalid in connection with the northeast Delhi riots that broke out in February last year.
The court said that Khalid, 33, was not present at the scene of the crime and he cannot be kept behind bars on the basis of "sketchy material".
What Did Court Say?
"Khalid was neither captured in any CCTV footage nor viral video, nor any independent witness or any police witness identified him in the crowd at the crime scene," Additional sessions judge Vinod Yadav said.
"The applicant appears to have been roped in the matter merely on the basis of his own disclosure statement and disclosure statement of co-accused Tahir Hussain," the court said.
"The applicant cannot be permitted to remain behind bars in this case on the basis of such sketchy material against him," the court added.
Khalid, however, will continue to be in jail in connection with the northeast Delhi riots in which he was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), reported Hindustan Times.
2020 Delhi Riots
At least 53 people were killed and more than 400 suffered injuries in the riots that broke out in parts of northeast Delhi on February 23, 2020. Police have registered at least 755 cases related to the violence that was allegedly triggered after clashes between those protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and those supporting it.
The Delhi Police Crime Branch alleged that Khalid involved in organising a meeting in Shaheen Bagh on January 8 to plot the violence in the national capital.
The FIR against Umar Khalid was registered based on the statement of constable Sangram Singh, in which he alleged that on February 24, 2020, a large crowd gathered on the road in a locality in northeast Delhi and started pelting stones.
The constable alleged that the mob thrashed him and other cops and set ablaze vehicles in a parking area.
On Thursday, the court said the sole evidence of this "so-called conspiracy" is a statement by a witness Rahul Kasana, in which he said while he was standing outside a building in Shaheen Bagh, where he had dropped principal accused Tahir Hussain, he saw Umar Khalid and Khalid Saifi entering the same building.
"I fail to understand from the aforesaid statement how a lofty claim of conspiracy can be inferred. In my humble opinion, charge sheeting the applicant in this case on the basis of such insignificant material is unwarranted. I have deliberately not touched the material sought to be relied upon by the police against the applicant in case FIR No.59/2020 (investigated by Special Cell)," the 12-page order by the court read.
The court also rejected the prosecution's argument that Khalid was in constant contact with co-accused Tahir Hussain and Khalid Saifi over the mobile phone and said that "prima facie that does not in any way go on to establish the criminal conspiracy alleged against the applicant in the matter".
"The applicant cannot be made to incarcerate in jail for infinity merely on account of the fact that other persons who were part of the riotous mob have to be identified and arrested in the matter," the court said.
The Delhi court granted bail to Khalid on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 and surety of like amount. The court said that Khalid will not tamper with evidence or influence any witness in any manner. The court also asked him to install Aarogya Setu on his phone before leaving the prison considering the spike in Coronavirus cases across the country.