The Delhi High Court has granted bail to five persons accused of being part of a mob that allegedly murdered a police constable in North East Delhi during the riots last year, The Indian Express reported on Friday. The court said that each member of the mob cannot be charged for murder.

“It is egregious and against the principles enshrined in our Constitution to allow an accused to remain languishing behind bars during the pendency of the trial,” the court said, according to Live Law.

Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26, 2020, in the Capital, claiming 53 lives and injuring hundreds.

Head Constable Ratan Lal died on died on February 24, 2020. A first information report filed by the police the next day alleged that he was killed by rioters near Chandbagh.

The police had filed charges against 17 persons in the case. One of them got bail in February.

On Friday, the court heard the bail applications of Furkan, Shadab Ahmed, Arif, Suvaleen and Tabassum. Furkan and Ahmed have been in custody for 16 months, while Arif and Suvaleen have spent 17 months in jail, according to The Indian Express. Tabassum was jailed in November 2020.

Justice Subramonium Prasad noted that there was no electronic evidence to place Furkan at the crime scene, according to the newspaper. In the case of Ahmed also, the court said he had not been caught on camera.

While granting bail to Arif and Tabassum, the judge said that he could not rely on video footage as the accused were not clearly visible in it.

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“At this juncture, it appears that the statements of the police officers that have been recorded are wholly contradictory to the CDR [call detail record] and cell ID details that are on record,” the judge added, according to the newspaper.

Prasad noted that it was the duty of courts to ensure that individuals are not deprived of personal freedoms “in the face of excess of state power”, according to Live Law.

He added: “Bail is the rule and jail is the exception, and courts must exercise their jurisdiction to uphold the tenets of personal liberty, subject to rightful regulation of the same by validly enacted legislation.”

The judge said that a court must carefully weigh the facts and circumstances of a case while deciding on whether to give bail to the accused, according to The Indian Express.

“When there is a crowd involved, at the juncture of grant or denial of bail, the Court must hesitate before arriving at the conclusion that every member of the unlawful assembly inhabits a common intention to accomplish the unlawful common object,” he said, according to Live Law.