2020 Delhi riots: Court rejects bail plea of man who pointed gun at cop

New Delhi: A court here on Monday rejected the bail plea of Shahrukh Pathan, who had allegedly pointed a gun at a Delhi Police head constable during the 2020 riots in the national capital.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat was hearing Pathan’s bail plea, which was moved in October last year but not pressed on his request for considering it after the main eyewitnesses in the case were examined.

It was taken up for hearing after Pathan moved an application last month for pressing the bail plea “in view of the threats” faced by him in prison.

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“This court does not see any reason at all to grant bail to the applicant or accused. Accordingly, the bail application … stands dismissed,” the judge said.

He noted that Pathan’s bail plea was earlier dismissed both by the present court and the Delhi High Court and the court had also framed charges against him and others for various offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including rioting and attempt to murder, and under the provisions of the Arms Act.

None of the accused had challenged the order on the charges passed in December 2021 and the grounds raised in the bail plea, such as the alleged discrepancies in the statements of witnesses or interviews, were dealt with in detail in the earlier orders on bail and charges, the court said.

It said from the perusal of the entire case file, it was apparent that after the framing of the charges, there was no delay in the trial on account of the prosecution’s fault.

It was primarily because of reasons, such as the co-accused persons “purposefully absenting themselves on court dates”, accused Kaleem Ahmed pleading guilty during the trial and charges being framed against one of the accused, Babu Wasim, who was arrested subsequently, the court pointed out.

“It has to be noted that the date has always been given as per the choice of the counsel for the accused who, despite the court asking for short dates, had insisted by showing his diary to contend that he does not have dates and that the date be given as per his diary,” the court added.

Rejecting Pathan’s arguments about “threats from jail officials”, the court said the entire flood of applications regarding the same did not inspire confidence and the allegations of harassment and torture were “prima facie” for obtaining bail.

Taking note of Pathan’s behaviour in the jail as seen in the CCTV footage of two separate incidents of January 30 and February 10, along with the recovery of a mobile phone from the accused inside the prison, the court said his conduct was “completely unsatisfactory”.

It noted that according to the footage of January 30, Pathan had left the video-conferencing room of the Tihar Jail and voluntarily entered a cell for two-and-a-half hours without informing the authorities and was seen “mingling and having lunch with co-inmates, including gangsters”.

On being traced, Pathan was given a punishment ticket by the jail superintendent and after coming out of the official’s room, he voluntarily met two convicts, including a death-row convict in the Red Fort bomb blast case, and after talking to them for a while, gestured towards an assistant superintendent, who then slapped him.

“The entire demeanour of the accused … during the time when he was in the cell with other inmates and having lunch with them or when he was walking towards the jail superintendent’s room or outside shows his casual and comfortable approach and does not show any harassment or sign of threat,” the court said.

It said Pathan made aggressive gestures towards the assistant superintendent and it appeared that he was trying to provoke the prison officials.

“This obviously does not justify the assistant superintendent … slapping him since being a public servant and in charge, he has to act in a more restrained way and take the aggressive and malafide conduct of the accused or undertrial in his stride,” the court added.

Taking note of Pathan’s conduct on February 10 as seen in the CCTV footage played in the court, the judge said the accused was allegedly again found outside his high-risk ward, where he mingled with “three other hardened prisoners or criminals”, and “from the shadow”, he could be seen intentionally beating up an undertrial prisoner and then bandaging him.

The undertrial prisoner made a complaint to the jail inspecting judge the next day that he and Pathan were badly beaten up, tortured and harassed by the jail superintendent, the court said.

“It was only on the production of this CCTV footage in the court that the said application was not pursued,” the court said, adding, “In all the footage shown, the accused can be seen constantly arguing with the jail staff.”

It further said after the incident, Pathan was shifted from the high-risk prisoners’ ward to the special prisoners’ ward (a high-risk ward with round-the-clock camera surveillance) and the accused’s counsel had moved an application seeking directions to transfer his client back to the earlier ward as he faced threats from gangsters and other prisoners.

“However, when it was highlighted that despite being a high-risk prisoner, the accused was voluntarily violating the rules himself by mingling with convicts and gangsters, the counsel for the accused suggested that it was the fault of the jail authorities and not so much of the accused’s fault,” the court said.

The Jafrabad police station had filed a chargesheet against Pathan and others.

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