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Magdhi Diksha|May 31, 2023
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on Tuesday on a plea moved by the Delhi Police, challenging a trial court's order discharging Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam and student activists Asif Iqbal Tanha and Safoora Zargar in a 2019 Jamia Nagar violence case.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma had reserved the order on March 23 on the city police's plea after hearing the arguments of the lawyers for the police and 11 accused. The case concerns the violence that erupted after a clash between the Delhi Police and those protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the Jamia Nagar area here in December 2019.
The trial court had, in its February 4 order, discharged 11 people from the case while holding that they were made "scapegoats" by the police and that dissent has to be encouraged, not stifled. The police, in its revision petition, said the trial court's order is in the teeth of well-settled principles of law, suffers from grave infirmities that go to the root of the matter and is perverse.
The plea of the police also said the trial court not only discharged the accused persons, but was also swayed by "emotional" and "sentimental feelings". It cast aspersions on the prosecuting agency and passed "gravely prejudicial" and "adverse" remarks against the prosecuting agency and the investigation, the police said.
It contended that the trial court's order was perverse and unsustainable in law as it cannot indulge in conducting a mini-trial at the stage of framing charges by determining the credibility of the evidence as to whether it would warrant a conviction or not.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the Delhi Police, had argued that conviction can take place purely on the testimony of police witnesses and as such, the trial court had erred in holding that there was no evidence that could convict the respondents. He had said the non-consideration or selective consideration of the third chargesheet for the reasons stated in the order was fatal and made the order perverse.
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The police's plea was opposed by the counsel for the 11 people, who submitted that there was no error in the order passed by the trial court. While discharging the 11 accused, the trial court had ordered framing of charges against another accused, Mohammad Ilyas.
The 11 people who were discharged in the case are Imam, Tanha, Zargar, Mohammad Qasim, Mahmood Anwar, Shahzar Raza Khan, Mohammad Abuzar, Mohammad Shoaib, Umair Ahmad, Bilal Nadeem and Chanda Yadav. The lawyer representing Zargar had contested her presence and identification at the spot and said the face of the person whom the police claimed to be Zargar was fully covered and it had not explained how it came to the conclusion that it was indeed Zargar.
Defending his discharge in the case, Imam had said he had only campaigned in favour of a peaceful protest and a "chakka jam" cannot be called a "violent method of protest". The police has also challenged the trial court's order, saying it "overstepped its jurisdiction in passing disparaging and gravely prejudicial observations against the investigation and investigative agencies" and therefore, such observations ought to be expunged from the record.
Imam was accused of instigating the riots by delivering a provocative speech at the Jamia Millia Islamia University on December 13, 2019. He continues to remain in jail as he is an accused in the larger conspiracy case of the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.
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