Activist Khalid Saifi’s lawyer on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the trial in a case against him pertaining to the February 2020 riots in the city was not likely to end soon, The Indian Express reported.

Lawyer Rebecca John made the statement while seeking bail for Saifi in a case filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The police have accused the United Against Hate activist of being a part of a larger conspiracy to spark off the riots in Delhi.

John said that Section 43D(5) of the Act states that an accused person should not be granted bail if the court believes that a prima facie exists against the person. She, however, referred to a Supreme Court judgement from 2021 in which the bench had upheld the granting of bail under UAPA, noting that the accused person had already spent a significant amount of time in jail.

John told the High Court that Saifi had been in custody for about three years.

“The charge sheet in FIR 59/2020 has 495 witnesses, 33 protected witnesses, 63 investigating officers,” she said, according to The Indian Express. Three supplementary charge sheets have been filed. More are expected to come. In which reasonable world will this trial end in the foreseeable future with 15 accused?”

The division bench comprising Sidharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar gave time to Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad to present his arguments in connection with the bail plea. The case will next be heard on January 5, 2023, ANI reported.

Clashes had broken out on February 23 and February 26, 2020, between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it in North East Delhi. The violence had left 53 dead and hundreds injured. Most of those killed were Muslims.

The Delhi Police claim the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and was hatched by those who organised the protests against the Act.

On December 3, Saifi, along with student activist Umar Khalid, were discharged from a case related to the riots that was filed at the Khajuri Khas police station. The first information report was filed based on the statement of a constable alleging that a mob had gathered near the Chand Bagh Pulia (culvert) and started throwing stones.