Delhi riots 2020: Is probe complete in UAPA case? HC asks police

A bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait questioned the Delhi Police if they would file any further supplementary chargesheet.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the city police whether they have concluded the investigation in the case of alleged larger conspiracy behind the communal riots of 2020 where provisions of anti-terror law UAPA have been invoked against several student activists.

A bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait questioned the Delhi Police if they would file any further supplementary chargesheet.

“Take instruction and make a statement if investigation is closed or will you continue. We will record it,” the bench, also comprising Justice Manoj Kumar Jain, orally told the police counsel.

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“Tell us whether fifth supplementary chargesheet is going to be filed or not,” the court said while hearing the bail plea of ‘United Against Hate’ founder Khalid Saifi in the case.

The senior lawyer appearing for Saifi emphasised that he has been in custody for around four years and the conclusion of the trial would take a long time.

She said there are more than 18 accused in the case and the delay in trial court proceedings, where charges have not been framed yet, cannot be attributed to Saifi.

The Delhi Police opposed Saifi’s bail application, contending that the conspiracy to instigate violence can be established from the statements made by the protected witnesses and the WhatsApp chats between the accused.

Khalid Saifi and several others, including student activists Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and others, have been booked under anti-terror law the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots in North-East Delhi which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

The violence had erupted during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Saifi had filed the present plea seeking bail in 2022. His plea was earlier heard extensively by a division bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul who was last year appointed the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court.

The first chargesheet in the case was filed in September 2020.

Saifi’s senior counsel had earlier contended that while no case was made out against him, three other accused — Asif Iqbal Tanha, Kalita and Narwal– against whom the allegations are “graver”, have already been granted bail by the high court, and that he cannot be kept in indefinite incarceration.

Police have refuted Saifi’s claim that he had no connection with co-accused Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam, saying it was not borne out by the material on record, and his discharge in another riots case “does not take us to a logical end to say that there was no evidence”.

On October 18, 2022, the court had refused to grant bail to Umar Khalid in the same case, saying he was in constant touch with other co-accused and allegations against him were prima facie true.

Bail pleas of several other accused in the matter, including Sharjeel Imam, are pending in the high court.

The matter would be heard next in March.

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