A court in Delhi rejected the police’s contention that a man accused for the February violence in North East Delhi should not be given bail because he was a “bad character”, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The court observed that a man cannot languish in jail “just because of that tag” and granted him bail.

The observations were made by Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav, who granted bail to Neeraj on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 with one surety of the like amount. The court directed Neeraj to maintain peace and harmony in the locality and not influence witnesses or tamper with evidence. It also asked him install the Aarogya Setu app.

During the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor Naresh Kumar Gaur told the court that Neeraj was wanted in the case of theft and vandalism during the riots in Bhajanpura area of the Capital. The prosecutor said that Neeraj was arrested on the basis of a disclosure made by a co-accused, identified as Mahesh.

Gaur argued that the accused was involved in 10 cases of riots. “Besides, being a previous convict, he is the ‘bad character’ of the area, and if released on bail at this stage, he may threaten the witnesses,” Gaur added.

Neeraj’s counsel Ashok Kumar, meanwhile, argued that there was no electronic evidence in terms of CCTV footage or call records against him.

After listening to their arguments, Yadav observed that the prosecution was not able to differentiate the role of the applicant in the matter from that of co-accused Manish, who has been released on bail. The judge added that there was neither any connecting evidence of identification of the applicant in the case except for his own disclosure statement, nor any independent eyewitness. Besides this, Yadav observed that “the applicant cannot be made to languish in jail in the present matter merely on account of the fact that he is a ‘bad character’ of the area”.

“The identification of the applicant by beat staff is hardly of any consequences to the prosecution,” he added. “There is no electronic evidence on record against the applicant. The investigation in the matter is complete.”

Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the new citizenship law and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds. The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence, mostly in Muslim neighbourhoods. The violence was the worst Delhi saw since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

In multiple chargesheets filed in July, the police had claimed the violence in Delhi was a result of a conspiracy to defame the Narendra Modi-led government. They alleged that people who had organised protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act were the conspirators. However, the police have failed to produce video evidence so far.