The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on a bail plea filed by activist Umar Khalid for the sixth time in the 2020 Delhi riots case, in which he has been incarcerated since September 2020 under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and criminal conspiracy.
Clashes had broken out in North East Delhi from February 23 to February 26, 2020, between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it, leaving 53 dead and hundreds injured. Most of those killed were Muslims.
The Delhi Police have claimed that the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Khalid, arrested by the Delhi Police on September 13, 2020, has sought bail saying that he had no role in the violence nor any “conspiratorial connect” with other accused persons in the case.
The former Jawaharlal Nehru University student approached the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court denied him bail in October.
At Tuesday’s hearing, a bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Dipankar Datta said they need to examine the documentary evidence and adjourned the case for four weeks.
“You file something on what is the evidence available with regard to the charges,” the judges told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Khalid.
Sibal argued that certain provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, including provisions concerning terrorism, raising funds for terrorist acts and conspiracy cannot be applied in the case.
Khalid’s case first came up before the Supreme Court on May 18 and since then has been adjourned five times for reasons ranging from the police seeking more time to file counter-affidavit, a judge recusing himself from the hearing, the case being listed on a miscellaneous day and due to the unavailability of Khalid’s counsel.
The repeated adjournments happen despite the Supreme Court saying that in matters pertaining to liberty of citizens, the courts should act promptly.