Umar Khalid bail plea: Can’t hold mini-trial to examine veracity of witness statement, says Delhi HC
The prosecution has relied on the statement given by a protected witness that the conspiracy for the Delhi riots was hatched at the office of the PFI.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday told the lawyer for activist Umar Khalid that it cannot hold a mini-trial to ascertain whether the statement of a witness was true, Bar and Bench reported.
A bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar made the statement while hearing a petition by the activist seeking bail in connection with the 2020 Delhi violence larger conspiracy case.
Between February 23 and February 26, 2020, clashes broke out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.
Khalid was arrested on September 14, 2020. He has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and has been in custody since then.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the judges cited a Supreme Court judgement from 2020 as stating that while considering a bail plea, a court should only look at the evidence collated in the chargesheet without questioning its veracity.
However, Khalid’s lawyer Trideep Pais argued that the judgement had held that the evidence in the chargesheet should be “good and sufficient” for the court to prima facie be satisfied that the offence in question has been committed.
The bench, however, said that evidence in the chargesheet can only be contested at the stage of the trial.
“You are asking us to conduct a mini-trial and determine whether the three [Khalid, former Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain and activist Khalid Saifi] met,” the court remarked, according to The Indian Express.
The prosecution has alleged that the three accused persons had held a meeting at the office of the Popular Front of India in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh on January 8, 2020, which was when they hatched a conspiracy in connection with the riots. The police have relied on the statement of a protected witness to support this allegation.
Khalid’s lawyer said that the witness had not made any allegation about this meeting in previous statements. He also argued that the chargesheet made very detailed allegations, but the sole witness that the prosecution relied upon had nothing to say in this regard.
Pais also said that call detail records and tower locations submitted by the prosecution showed that the three accused persons were not at the same place on January 8, 2020.
The High Court posted the matter for further hearing on Monday.