Activist Umar Khalid on Monday filed a fresh bail plea, under a separate provision, in a case related to the communal violence in North East Delhi in February 2020, Live Law reported. Khalid has been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the case.
Khalid’s counsel Senior Advocate Trideep Pais substituted the bail application earlier filed under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code, with a new one under Section 437 of the CrPC. Section 439 of the CrPC grants power to High Courts and Sessions Courts to grant bail, while Section 437 has similar provisions for other courts.
The fresh plea was filed after Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad last month raised objections on a bail plea filed by co-accused in the case and Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan. On August 26, Prasad had argued against the maintainability of Jahan’s plea, which was also filed under Section 439 of the CrPC, according to Bar and Bench.
Prasad had submitted that Jahan’s plea could not be entertained by the special UAPA court, adding that she should instead file the petition under Section 437.
After Pais submitted the fresh application on Khalid’s behalf on Monday, the prosecution sought time from the court to file a separate response on the matter. Prasad insisted that he wanted to respond to Pais’ submission in the plea that the prosecution’s objection to Jahan’s bail petition was a “dilatory tactic”.
However, Pais said that he wanted to continue with his arguments. “The only change is [Section] 439 changed to [Section] 437 and the second change is that I candidly say that I am filing it under a new provision,” he said, according to Bar and Bench.
The court held that it was appropriate to give time to the prosecution to file a reply since a fresh plea had been filed.
“If an application under Section 439 has to be withdrawn and Section 437 application has to be taken today, I have to get a reply because I have not issued notice in it,” Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat said.
The matter will next be heard on Wednesday.
During the previous hearing on Khalid’s bail plea, Pais had argued that the Delhi Police’s chargesheet against Khalid read like a “9 pm news script of one of those shouting news channels”. The chargesheet against Khalid and student activists Sharjeel Imam and Faizan Khan was filed in November.
Several activists and students were arrested last year after clashes broke out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26, 2020, in North East Delhi. The large-scale violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured.
The Act, passed in 2019, introduced religious criteria for Indian citizenship for the first time. Critics said it discriminated against Muslims.
In multiple chargesheets related to the Delhi riots, the police claimed that the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. They alleged that it was planned by those who organised protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Delhi Police alleged that Khalid had made two speeches that instigated protestors to block roads in the city in February 2020, during the visit of Donald Trump, who was then the president of the United States.