Applications Seeking Probe Status in 2020 Delhi Riots Conspiracy Case Not Maintainable: Prosecution to Court


Accused including Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, and Asif Iqbal Tanha, had sought clarification from the Delhi Police regarding the status of their investigation.

NEW DELHI — The prosecution on Friday said the applications filed by some of the accused individuals in the case related to the alleged conspiracy behind the 2020 northeast Delhi riots, were not maintainable, and concluded its arguments.

Accused including Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, and Asif Iqbal Tanha, had sought clarification from the Delhi Police regarding the status of their investigation.

Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Amit Prasad cited a judgement before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat of Karkardooma court and said: “A different and not less well-recognised rule, namely, where a power is given to do a certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in that way or not at all. Other methods of performance are necessarily forbidden.”

Following the above statement, said that it is a settled doctrine of law and that the apex court and all other courts have always followed it.

“So when the right is not given to the accused in the garb of this application, they cannot design a new procedure. Therefore, the maintainability of the application goes through the roof,” Prasad said.

The prosecution said that certain applications brought forth by the accused parties lack legal basis.

The argument put forth by the prosecution is that these applications do not disclose any provision in the law that would allow their prayers to be granted.

Furthermore, Prasad said that previous judgments cited by the accused do not provide the court with the authority to entertain their requests in the manner presented, nor do they extend beyond the scope of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The prosecution made it clear that they would not engage in arguments beyond the question of the maintainability of the applications until it is established that the applications themselves are maintainable under the law

“Unless and until they are able to demonstrate that the application itself is maintainable, they cannot go beyond that. So I would not go beyond arguing for maintainability,” Prasad said.

When questioned by the judge about whether the case is suitable for further trial, the prosecution indicated their intent to present their case during arguments on charges.

They assured the court that they would demonstrate the necessity for continuing the trial based on the contents of the chargesheet and clarified that they had no undisclosed evidence.

“It is not that I have kept something in my back pocket. All these things I have to demonstrate to the court and I will demonstrate when I argue on charge. Today, to block the arguments on charge by way of these applications is not permissible,” he said.

In response, one of the accused parties’ counsel raised concerns and requested that the prosecution address certain aspects before proceeding with their rebuttal.

They questioned how the prosecution could avoid responding to the court’s previous directives, including inquiries regarding the conspiracy and the potential impact of a supplementary chargesheet on the trial.

The judge then said that the court would reserve its questions for both the prosecution and the accused until the end of the proceedings to prevent the trial from devolving into a back-and-forth question-and-answer session.

The court has now posted the matter on October 3 for rebuttal by the counsel for the accused individuals.

On Tuesday, the prosecution had characterised accused’s applications as frivolous, speculative, and presumptive.

Prasad had argued that these applications do not cite any legal provision that would allow the requested actions.

Prasad had remarked: “… these prayers go on the assumption that framing of charges attains finality.”

He had also stated that the judgements referenced by the accused do not grant the authority to entertain the applications in this manner, nor do they provide any power to go beyond the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The SPP had further said that these applications appear to be attempts to derail the ongoing trial.

The accused had filed applications seeking a direction from the court to direct the police to clarify when the investigation will be completed before arguments begin on whether to frame charges.

Tanha had specifically requested a timeline for when the investigation is likely to be completed. Other co-accused, including Safoora Zargar, Sharjeel Imam, and Meeran Haider, also considered similar requests.

On August 5, the court had said that it will start hearing on a day-to-day basis from September 11.

However, on September 11, advocate Adit Pujari, appearing for Kalita, took objection to proceeding on charges saying that the prosecution is beating around the bush and is still not saying that the investigation is complete in the case.

Advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, representing Tanha, had said that before proceeding the trial, the prosecution must assure that their investigation is complete and no further supplementary charge sheet will be filed in the case.

However, the contentions were opposed by Prasad, who claimed that this is just a tactic being played by the accused, who are on bail, for the benefit of accused who are in custody as they claim delay in trial before higher courts.

He further said that it should be taken on record because tomorrow it should not reflect that they didn’t start the arguments, and contended that they could have opposed the day-to-day hearing before hand and could have filed a proper application.

The court then ordered: “Put a detailed submission, with advance copy to the prosecution.”

The proceedings in the case commenced in September 2020 with the filing of the first charge sheet, and since then, the Delhi Police has filed a total of four charge sheets in the case. The charge sheets were submitted on September 16, 2020, followed by supplementary charge sheets on November 22, 2020, February 24, 2021, and March 2, 2022.

The accused in this case include Tahir Hussain, Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi, Isharat Jahan, Haider, Gulfisha Fatima, Shifa-ur-Rehman, Tanha, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Saleem Malik, Mohd. Saleem Khan, Athar Khan, Zargar, Imam, Faizan Khan, and Narwal. — IANS


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