2020 Delhi riots: Court acquits man from the charges of rioting, torching shop

New Delhi: A court here has acquitted a man from the charges of rioting and torching a shop in a case related to the 2020 northeast Delhi riots, saying the testimony of the beat constable who had identified him was “not reliable and sufficient at all.”

The court also said that the identification of the accused “was probably the outcome of an after-thought development.”

“I find that charges levelled against the accused in this case are not proved beyond reasonable doubts. Hence, the accused is acquitted of all the charges levelled against him in this case,” Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala said in an order dated September 19.

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The court was hearing a case against the accused Noor Mohammad, who was accused of being a part of a riotous mob that looted and set ablaze a tailoring shop in the Khajuri Khas area on February 24, 2020.

The court noted that the prosecution had relied upon the testimonies of the complainant Mohammad Hanif and beat constable Sangram Singh, but the complainant turned hostile in respect of identifying any rioter and his cross-examination was also of no avail.

The court further said that the complaint dated February 29, 2020, did not name the accused as one of the rioters, nor did the complainant say that he had seen and could identify any of the rioters.

While the beat constable claimed to have seen the accused in the mob, he informed the Investigating Officer (IO) about the involvement of the accused, for the first time, only on April 2, 2020, the court said.

Also, though the investigation of this case was entrusted to the IO on March 11, 2020, he did not examine the beat constable prior to April 2, the court said.

Further, the court noted that the IO “contradicted his own statement regarding getting information prior to April 2 of the relevant witness i.e, the beat constable, who could identify the culprits.”

“Surprisingly, he did not record such information either in the form of statement or in the case diary, if he had at all received such information from the beat constable or for that matter from the complainant,” the court said.

“This shows that identification of accused on April 2 was probably the outcome of an after-thought development,” the court added.

The court noted that the accused was identified by the beat constable on April 2 inside the police station and said: “the proceedings of April 2, 2020, regarding the interrogation of accused in other case and coincidental visit of the complainant as well as the beat constable in the police station at the same time, resulting into the identification of accused as one of the culprits in the incident in question, does appear unnatural.”

“Therefore, I do not find it safe to rely upon such coincidental identification by the beat constable, so as to presume the involvement of the accused in the incident in question,” the judge said.

“Hence, I find that testimony of the beat constable is not reliable and sufficient at all, to establish the presence of accused in the mob, which indulged into riot and incident investigated in this case,” the judge added.

Khajuri Khas police station had registered an FIR against the accused under various sections of the IPC, including rioting, armed with a deadly weapon, every member of the unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of the common object, disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant, mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy the house, etc., punishment for robbery and common intention.

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