The Supreme Court on Thursday again adjourned the hearing on a bail plea filed by activist Umar Khalid 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, Live Law reported.
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 Thursday’s hearing, a bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Dipankar Datta posted the case for hearing on November 1, citing lack of time.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal urged the judges to hear the case immediately, saying that he is a young student who has been behind bars for three years.
“There’s no chance of framing charges yet, how long will you keep him there?” he asked. “He has never done any overt act, they have admitted to it. The only thing is there is some conspiracy they are talking about, conspiracy for what? None of the sections apply.”
The advocate sought 20 minutes to show that no case can be made out against his client, Live Law reported.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the Delhi Police, blamed the accused persons for the delay in framing of charges as they keep filing interlocutory applications.
But Sibal pointed out that five supplementary chargesheets have been filed in the case.
Moreover, he added, that student activists Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha have been granted bail by the Delhi High Court. The Supreme Court also upheld the decision later.
Khalid’s case first came up before the Supreme Court on May 18 and since then has been adjourned six 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.