The Delhi High Court on Wednesday vacated its earlier stay order on the trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in a case related to violence in northeast Delhi in February last year, Bar and Bench reported.
The decision came after the Delhi government submitted to the court that the accused in the case can collect hard copies of the chargesheet on March 25, according to Live Law. The High Court had in November stayed the proceedings in the case after the Delhi Police had filed an appeal against a trial court order directing the supply of hard copy of the chargesheets to the accused.
The decision effectively means that several accused in the case, including former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid, Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, JNU student Sharjeel Imam and former Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, will now undergo trial under the UAPA.
In January, a trial court in Delhi had expressed its displeasure on the fact that the accused were not given a uniform time slot for reading the chargesheet, despite such orders. On more than one occasion, courts have also expressed concern over leaking of the content of chargesheet, leading to “media trial”, even as the accused were not provided with copies of the same.
Meanwhile, after the Delhi High Court cleared the decks for trial under UAPA, a a trial court in the city directed Tihar Jail Superintendent and police personnel to ensure the safety of Khalid and other accused while producing them physically for hearings and taking them back, Live Law reported.
Additional Sessions Judge Naveen Gupta gave the directions after Khalid moved an urgent application on the matter. The accused will be presented in the court for trial under UAPA for the first time on March 25.
A main chargesheet was filed in September against Kalita, Narwal and Hussain. Others named in the chargesheet were Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, and student activist Gulfisha Fatima, Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Shifa-Ur-Rehman, activists Khalid Saifi, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Salim Malik, Mohd Salim Khan and Athar Khan.
A supplementary chargesheet was filed in November against Khalid and Imam.
Clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 last year in North East Delhi, killing at least 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 in Delhi since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
The Delhi Police claimed that the violence was part of a larger conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and was planned by those who organised the protests against the amended Citizenship Amendment Act. They also claimed that the protestors had secessionist motives and were using “the facade of civil disobedience” to destabilise the government. The police have arrested several activists and students based on these “conspiracy” charges.