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[Delhi Riots] "He Played A Very Active Role In The Entire Conspiracy" : Delhi Court Denies Bail To Asif Iqbal Tanha

Sparsh Upadhyay
28 Oct 2020 8:03 AM GMT
[Delhi Riots] He Played A Very Active Role In The Entire Conspiracy : Delhi Court Denies Bail To Asif Iqbal Tanha

The Karkardooma Court (Delhi) on Monday (26th October) dismissed the bail plea of Jamia Millia Islamia student, Asif Iqbal Tanha, who has been arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in connection with Delhi Riots case.The Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat was of the view that a prima facie case related to larger conspiracy in connection with north-east...

The Karkardooma Court (Delhi) on Monday (26th October) dismissed the bail plea of Jamia Millia Islamia student, Asif Iqbal Tanha, who has been arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in connection with Delhi Riots case.

The Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat was of the view that a prima facie case related to larger conspiracy in connection with north-east Delhi riots in February was maintainable against Tanha and observed that he allegedly played an active role in the entire conspiracy.

The Case against Tanha

In the FIR 59/2020, which was lodged by Delhi Police in the Delhi riots conspiracy case, a total of 15 people were named and Tanha was one of them.

The police claimed that Tanha played an active role in orchestrating the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

It was also alleged he is a close associate of Safoora Zargar, Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and others, and thet he is a "key members of anti-CAA protests and subsequent riots in the national Capital".

It was also submitted that Tanha conspired, along with others, to "overthrow the Government" by setting up a chakka jam (road blockade) in Muslim-dominated areas.

Police also claimed that Tanha purchased a mobile SIM card by using fake documents and the same was used in planning the chakka jaam, riots etc and it was used to create a WhatsApp group.

It was also claimed that the SIM was subsequently provided to another Jamia student and co-accused Safoora Zargar to organise further protests.

It was also alleged by the Police that Tanha was a part of Jamia Coordination Committee (which coordinated the protests against the citizenship law) and Students' Islamic Organisation.

Also, they made WhatsApp group where the conspiracy was hatched as to how will the Riots take place and other plannings were also done through the WhatsApp Groups. Police also submitted chats of the Groups in the Chargesheet.

Arguments put forth

It was argued by Tanha's lawyer before the Court that the organisations such as the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) or Students' Islamic Organisation (SIO) were not designated as terrorist organisations under the UAPA.

It was also argued that he was not present in Delhi during the riots and did not visit any of the protest sites where rioting and violence occurred and that there was no physical evidence connecting him to the riots and no allegations with respect to any funds being received by him for terrorist activities.

On the other hand, the Special Public Prosecutor opposed the bail plea saying there were statements of protected witnesses in the case which clearly showed the alleged role of Asif Iqbal Tanha in the conspiracy.

Court's Analysis

The Court made it clear in its order that,

"There is the freedom to protest available to all the citizens of the country but that is subject to reasonable restrictions. There is also, no manner of doubt that every citizen can hold an opinion about any legislation which they construe as unfair in their understanding. The freedom, and right to protest against any law is available to all the citizens. What actually has to be seen in the context of the present case is whether there was a conspiracy which led to riots under the guise of protest against CAA or not, in terms of the contents of the charge­sheet." (emphasis supplied)

Further, the Court was of the view that JCC or Student of Islamic Organization (SIO) are not terrorist organizations under the UAPA, however, "Acts which threaten the unity and integrity of India, …causing social disharmony and creating terror in any section of the people, by making them feel surrounded resulting in violence, is also a terrorist act.", the Court noted.

In light of Section 15 of UA(P)A, which defines what a "Terrorist Act" is, the Court opined that,

"As per the investigation, there was a premeditated conspiracy of the disruptive chakka­jam and a preplanned protest at different planned sites in Delhi resulting in riots killing scores of people, injuring hundreds and causing destruction to the property. The entire conspiracy beginning from December 2019 of intentionally blocking roads to cause inconvenience and causing disrupting of the supplies of services, essential to the life of community of India resulting in violence with various means and then leading to February incident with the focus being targeted blocking of roads at mixed population areas and creating panic and attack on police personnel with facade of women protesters in front and leading to riots would be covered by the definition of terrorist act." (emphasis supplied)

The Court was of the view that accused persons were in touch and coordination with each other through the Whatsapp groups. Different roles were ascribed to different people in carrying out the said conspiracy.

Further, the Court took the view that the violence in February 2020 in North­East Delhi beginning with by firstly choking public roads, attacking policemen and then public and where firearms, acid bottles and instruments were used, resulting in loss of lives and property was a result of the said conspiracy.

In this context, the Court remarked

"Thus, vociferous agitation in the guise of Citizen Amendment Bill coupled with other activities of violence would show it was meant to cause or intended to cause disaffection against India"

Court's reliance on protected witnesses

The Court placed heavy reliance on Protected witnesses named 'BETA', 'JAMES', 'BOND', 'ROBOT' etc. who stated that Tanha used to give speeches, local sitting/campaigning took place, provocative speeches were given and mobilization of people used to take place, it was decided that JCC members alongwith Pinjra Tod representatives will do chakka­jam in North­East Delhi, Provocative speeches were given like that they will destroy the government, WhatsApp Groups were created, etc.

Witness 'JAMES' stated that - All the decisions of the JCC were taken by Umar Khalid and Nadeem Khan and the same were ratified by accused Asif Iqbal Tanha and Saiful Islam. He specifically mentioned the accused telling in the meeting that Umar Khalid and Nadeem Khan had told that all the preparation for riots have been done and everyone should be ready and they will go to any extent possible and will make the government turn back even if it means causing the riots.

Witness 'ROBOT' stated that - The accused Asif Iqbal Tanha was closely connected with Sharjeel Imam, Nadeem Khan, Safoora, etc. The accused played a very active role in the entire conspiracy of organizing the so-called protest at the protest sites which resulted in riots, killing numerous people besides injuries and destruction of property.

When, the Counsel for accused submitted that the statements of witnesses are false and contradictory and cannot be relied upon, the Court said,

"The statements of witnesses have to be taken at face value and their veracity will tested at the time of cross-examination".

Lastly, the Court perused Section 43 (D) (5) proviso of the UA(P) Act and said that as per this Section, if the court is of the opinion on the perusal of the chargesheet that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against such person is prima facie true, then, as per this provision, accused shall not be released on bail.

Consequently, in view of the above discussion, Court opined that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusations against the accused Asif Iqbal Tanha are prima facie true, hence, embargo created by Section 43D of UAPA applied for grant of bail to the accused.

Hence, the present application for bail of accused Asif Iqbal Tanha was dismissed.

Click Here To Download Order

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