A Delhi court Tuesday granted bail to two persons in a case related to the north-east Delhi riots while casting doubts on the credibility of the two police witnesses in the matter. Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav granted the relief to Mohd Shoaib and Shahrukh on furnishing a bail bond of Rs 20,000 with surety of like amount in the case of alleged vandalism and torching of a shop by a riotous mob in Gokalpuri area.
The court noted that the prosecution was opposing both the bail pleas on the strength of their categorical identification by beat officers — Constable Vipin and Head Constable Hari Babu — in their statements recorded under section 161 (examination by police) of the Code of Criminal Procedure on April 7, 2020. Their identification was hardly of any consequence, it said, adding that even though they were posted as beat officers in the area at the relevant time of the incident, they waited till April to name the accused when they had categorically seen and identified them allegedly indulging in riots on February 25, 2020.
Being police officials, what stopped them from reporting the matter then and there in the police station or to bring the same in the knowledge of higher police officers. This cast a serious doubt on the credibility of two police witnesses, the cour said in its order. It further said that the CCTV footage relied upon by the police in the case pertained to February 24, 2020, whereas the incident took place the next day.
No CCTV/video footage of February 25, 2020, (on which date the incident in question took place) has been placed on record by the investigating agency. "The applicants (Shoaib and Shahrukh) were not arrested from the spot, instead their arrest has been formally affected in the case on April 15, 2020 (i.e after lapse of about 55 days of the date of incident) in Mandoli Jail…, it added. It also said both the accused were entitled for grant of bail on the ground of parity as the role assigned to them was on identical footing as co-accused Rashid who was already enlarged on bail.
Be that as it may, the investigation in the matter is complete; charge sheet has also been filed; trial in the matter is likely to take long time; applicants cannot be made to incarcerate in jail for infinity merely on account of the fact that other persons who were part of the riotous mob have to be identified and arrested in the matter, it said. It directed both the accused not to tamper with evidence and to install Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones.
During the hearing, advocate Salim Malik, appearing for the accused, claimed they have been falsely implicated in the matter and were mere bonafide bystanders. Special Public Prosecutor D K Bhatia, appearing for the police, argued that both the accused were allegedly present at the spot with an unlawful assembly which was armed with stones, sticks, petrol bombs and acid bottles.
Communal violence had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 last year after clashes between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.