Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid on Monday told a court in Delhi that his custody in a case related to the February communal violence was extended illegally, mechanically and without prior intimation to his lawyers, PTI reported.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dinesh Kumar was hearing a case via video conference in connection with the riots in Khajuri Khas, a Muslim-dominated locality in North East Delhi. Khalid was arrested in this case on October 1 and is in judicial custody. He was earlier arrested in September in a separate case related to larger conspiracy in the violence, which claimed 53 lives and left scores injured.
Advocate Sanya Kumar, representing Khalid, said his lawyers were not given copies of the remand applications and denied information about when and before which judge he would be produced. This, Kumar said, has been happening since the beginning of his arrest in the case.
“It is absolutely against settled principle,” Kumar continued. “Umar Khalid’s custody was extended illegally and mechanically. This is a serious issue. The logistical difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic cannot come in the way of the rights of an accused or their counsel.”
Kumar along with advocate Trideep Pais sought directions to the investigating agency and the jail authorities to provide a copy of the application seeking remand/extension of remand to Khalid’s counsels in advance to the proceedings. They also asked the police to inform Khalid’s lawyers about the time, place and manner of all future remand proceedings one day in advance.
The former JNU student’s counsel requested the court to clarify that remand/extension proceedings cannot be carried out mechanically, stressing that lawyers should be allowed to participate effectively, either physically or through video conferencing in future.
When Khalid was produced on October 1 before the duty magistrate, he had requested that his counsels be apprised of the proceedings but his request was rejected, Kumar told the court. He was sent to police custody for three days. On October 4, he was sent to judicial custody for 14 days, which was extended on October 18 and again on October 31.
“On October 18 we met the same fate,” Khalid’s counsel said. “We tried to reach out to the police, the jail authorities, the investigating officer. We were not given any intimation about where the remand would happen. Then after much difficulty we found out the details at the last minute and joined the proceedings.”
Kumar claimed that time and time again Khalid’s remand was mechanically granted. “Case diaries were not signed, we were not supplied a copy of the remand application,” she added.
The court will the matter next on November 27.
Last week, Khalid said that he had not faced any problems in jail so far, apart from his liberties being curbed. “Except for the curbing of liberties and malicious investigation in the case, I have no other problems,” Khalid told the Karkardooma District Court.
On October 23, the court had instructed Tihar Jail authorities to allow Khalid to step out of his cell. The former JNU student had then informed the court that he was not being allowed to come out of his cell or talk to anyone, and claimed this was a kind of solitary confinement. The court had then summoned Tihar jail Superintendent Avadeshwar Kant, who denied that Khalid had been confined to his cell.
On Sunday, the police had filed a 200-page supplementary chargesheet before a local court against Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and Faizan Khan. Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat accepted the chargesheet, filed under several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Arms Act, and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.