[Delhi Riots] "Frivolous, speculative & presumptive": Prosecution Opposes Accused Persons' Application for Investigation Status Before Delhi Court

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Twenty accused persons including Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi, and former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain have been booked for their alleged involvement in the conspiracy to incite the riots. 12 accused persons are in jail whereas 6 are out on bail

Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Amit Prasad appearing for the Delhi Police on Tuesday termed as "frivolous," "speculative," and "presumptive" the applications of various accused filed to know the status of the investigation in a case pertaining to the alleged conspiracy behind the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.

Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Amitabh Rawat of the Karkardooma Court was hearing the applications filed by accused Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Meeran Haider, and Athar Khan. 

Accused Khalid Saifi, Faizan Khan, Ishrat Jahan, Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Saleem Malik, Shifa-ur-Rehman, Shadab Ahamd and Gulfisha Fatima have adopted the same arguments.

However, accused Saleem Khan, Tasleem Ahmad, Umar Khalid and Tahir Hussain have taken a stand that they want the arguments on point of charge to begin by the prosecution, without any further delay.

Today, SPP Prasad argued that each application failed to disclose any provision in law which could allow their prayers. He said that the applications were "frivolous" as they were beyond the ambit of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

"These prayers are speculative and presumptive … These prayers go on the assumption that framing of charges attains finality," he said.

"This frivolous application was filed on the day when arguments on charge were to begin. It was on 1:45 pm suddenly, when two accused opposed the hearing. They waited for a good 40 days. They made sure to wait till the time the prosecution opens the case. They disrupt the entire proceeding and then say they don't want to delay the trial", the SPP argued.

On judgments cited by the accused in their applications, the SPP said that none of the verdicts gave any power to entertain the application in this manner, nor any power to go beyond the CrPC. "Applications are nothing but attempts to derail the trial," the SPP said.

The matter is listed for further hearing on September 22 at 11 am. 

Earlier, in their applications filed on Monday, Meeran Haider wanted to know from the Delhi Police whether the investigation in the matter was complete, while Khan sought deferment or adjournment of the arguments on charges till the completion of the investigation.

Advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran for Asif Iqbal Tanha had then submitted, “I have two specific prayers - that the prosecution must state what the status of the investigation is and the timeline for it. If the investigation is complete, then the prosecution should state the status ... There must be a concrete case against me so that I know what I am arguing against”. She had contended that when first supplementary chargesheet was filed, it related to three accused, when second was filed in 2021, no specific allegations against were against Tanha. "One year later, they now file third supplementary chargesheet, where they have new witnesses," the counsel had argued. 

Advocate Adit Pujari for Devangana Kalita had contended that there are consequences of never-ending trial. “In chargesheet, they have said that there is 'terrorist attack' by planning chakka jam. That case has completely changed before Supreme Court. How is Chakka  jam terrorist activity and how does it come under UAPA?” he had added.

Pujari had submitted, “Today when SPP Prasad is saying that they can continue the investigation and that we are trying to derail the process, I can show that we are not trying to delay. The latest judgment says that they have to stop at the stage of charge. The moment, charges are framed, their power stops”. He had further submitted, “Your Lordships may call upon the case diaries, the prosecution has material in their possession. Have they called the same witnesses?...The trial will be delayed for sure”.

Notably, on August 5, the ASJ had ordered, “The compliance under Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (supply to the accused of copy of police report and other documents) qua all the charge sheeted accused persons is complete. Hence, list the matter for arguments on the point of charge on September 11, 2023, onwards for day-to-day hearing”.

The judge had said that the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) will begin the arguments on September 11 and all accused have to appear physically during the hearings. SPP Amit Prasad will appear on behalf of the Delhi Police.

"All the accused persons shall appear physically on next date onwards. The IO [Investigating Officer] concerned shall remain present on the next date of hearing. Copy of this order be sent to the concerned Jail superintended for information and compliance”, the court had added.

Case Title: State v. Tahir Hussain & Others