2019 Jamia Violence: Delhi Police Moves High Court Against Discharge Of Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha & Others
The Delhi Police has moved Delhi High Court challenging the discharge of Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha and eight others in 2019 Jamia violence case.
The police has challenged an order passed by city’s Saket Courts discharging the accused persons after it observed that the police was unable to apprehend “actual perpetrators” and “surely managed to rope them as scapegoats” in the matter.
Pulling up the prosecution for filing “ill-conceived chargesheets”, Additional Sessions Judge Arul Varma had observed that the police has “arbitrarily chosen” to array some people from the protesting crowd as accused and others as police witnesses.
This “cherry picking” is detrimental to the precept of fairness, the court added.
The court however framed charges against one accused, Mohd. Ilyas.
The case is connected to the incidents of violence at Jamia Milia Islamia University in December, 2019. The FIR alleged offences of rioting and unlawful assembly - sections 143, 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 332, 333, 308, 427, 435, 323, 341, 120B and 34 of IPC were invoked in the case.
The police had filed a chargesheet against Mohd Ilyas on April 21, 2020. A second supplementary chargesheet was then filed against 11 other accused persons, who have been discharged in the matter.
A third supplementary chargesheet was also filed recently on February 1, 2023, during continuation of arguments on charge. The prosecution tried to establish that the witnesses had identified the accused persons on the basis of some photographs.
The judge observed that Delhi Police failed to adduce fresh evidence and rather sought to present old facts in the garb of “further investigation” by filing another supplementary chargesheet.
It further said that there were no eyewitnesses who could substantiate the police’s version that the accused persons were in anyway involved in the commission of the offences.
It said that no test identification parade was carried out during investigation until filing of the third supplementary chargesheet and that the photographs and videos only demonstrate that the accused persons were standing behind the barricades.
The court had said that liberty of protesting citizens should not have been lightly interfered with and that dissent is nothing but an “extension of the invaluable fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression contained in Article 19” subject to the restrictions contained therein.
It is a right which we are sworn to uphold, the judge said.
The court also said that in the present case, the investigative agencies should have incorporated the use of technology, or have gathered credible intelligence, adding that then only it should have embarked on “galvanizing the judicial system qua the accused persons.”
“Else, it should have abstained from filing such an ill-conceived chargesheets qua persons whose role was confined only to being a part of a protest,” the court said.