A court in Delhi on Thursday said that cases related to the communal violence that took place in the Capital last year had to be treated with “utmost sensitivity”, but that did not mean that common sense should be ignored, Live Law reported.

Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav made the observation while clearing a 22-year-old man of a charge under Section 436 of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to “mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house”.

The charge was part of a first information report filed by the police based on the complaints of four people who had alleged that rioters destroyed their properties during the violence, according to PTI.

Clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26, 2020, in North East Delhi. At least 53 people had died in the violence, and hundreds injured.

During Thursday’s hearing, the judge took note that in his initial complaint to the police, one of the complainants had made no mention of rioters setting fire to his house, Live Law reported.

Yadav added: “It is only when his statement under Section 161 CrPc [Code of Criminal Procedure] was recorded by the IO [investigating officer] on 06.03.2020 that ingredients of Section 436 IPC for the first time came into fore and same were accordingly invoked in the chargesheet.”

The judge said that investigators cannot conceal this discrepancy by taking supplementary statements of the complainants.

Yadav added: “This court is conscious of the fact that cases of communal riots have to be considered with utmost sensitivity, but that does not mean that the common sense should be given go-­by; mind has to be applied even at this stage with regard to the material available on record.”

The judge also noted that there were no witnesses to the incident, and no photographs or CCTV footage was available either, PTI reported.

‘Lackadaisical’ investigation

The Delhi Police have been pulled up by courts several times for the flaws in their investigation of the cases related to the riots.

On Monday, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg had expressed displeasure at the police’s “lackadaisical attitude” in investigating cases to the riots.

Last Thursday, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav said had said the police had failed to conduct a fair investigation in riot cases and ensure justice for the victims.

The judge had added: “I am not able to restrain myself from observing that when history will look back at the worst communal riots since partition in Delhi, it is the failure of investigating agency to conduct proper investigation by using latest scientific methods, will surely torment the sentinels of democracy.”