23 Jun 2023 8:24 AM GMT
A court in the national capital has acquitted Delhi Minister Raaj Kumar Anand and Aam Aadmi Party councillor Ankush Garg in a case related to a protest held near the residence of former Delhi BJP President Adesh Kumar Gupta in March last year.The AAP leaders were booked under Section 188 read with 34 of IPC for disobedience of order duly promulgated by a public servant. Delhi Police accused...
A court in the national capital has acquitted Delhi Minister Raaj Kumar Anand and Aam Aadmi Party councillor Ankush Garg in a case related to a protest held near the residence of former Delhi BJP President Adesh Kumar Gupta in March last year.
The AAP leaders were booked under Section 188 read with 34 of IPC for disobedience of order duly promulgated by a public servant. Delhi Police accused them of marching while shouting slogans without any prior permission from the Competent Authority and not maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.
ACMM Vidhi Gupta Anand said the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused persons and there are innumerable lapses in investigation conducted by the IO.
“The most glaring omission on the part of the IO is not bringing the video of the incident on record despite the fact that same was made available to him. Mere statement of the IO that he has changed his mobile phone and therefore, he does not remember receiving the video of the incident appears to be nothing more than a flimsy excuse. It is a separate question as to why did the IO not produce the most clinching piece of evidence in the court despite having received it. Whether the reason behind this conduct of the IO is ignorance towards legal procedures or casual approach to investigation or some other extraneous factors; the bottom line remains that this act of the IO has damaged the Prosecution case beyond repairs,” said the court.
The court noted that as the order dated February 26, 2022, of ACP Patel Nagar, even though social restrictions were lifted on account of declining cases of COVID-19, it was emphasized that while allowing public activities, wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing, hand hygiene etc. as mandated in National Directives for COVID Management shall continue to be enforced at all places and any violation of the instructions shall invite action u/s 188 IPC apart from other legal provisions.
The court explained that merely assembling at a public place by group of people is not an offence unless prohibitions u/s 144 Cr.P.C. are in force and the same have been brought to the knowledge of the concerned persons. “Further, to attract penalty under section 188 IPC, it is a must that the said persons continue to gather or refuse to disperse despite having knowledge of the notification u/s 144 Cr.P.C.,” it added.
Delving into the prosecution evidence, the court said that only three witnesses have been examined and there are several contradictions in their testimonies, which questions their truthfulness.
“To cite a few, there is no specific number of the persons who participated in the protest march, while one witness says it would be around 50-60 persons, the other says that it would be around 100-150 persons and despite that only two persons have been made Accused in this matter,” said the court.
It further said the time duration of the protest remains unclear as all the three witnesses have given different answers. The court also noted that though the first prosecution witness stated that he had made a video of the incident and sent the same to the IO on WhatsApp, the IO denied having received any such video.
“The above contradictions are material and substantial contradictions and cannot be ignored while considering the truthfulness of the Prosecution witnesses, more so, because the case at hand is a criminal case and duty of the Prosecution is to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts. Even if presuming that minor discrepancies in the testimonies of Prosecution witnesses are bound to happen, there are other glaring discrepancies as well brought out in the Prosecution case, which render the Prosecution case wholly unreliable.”
The court also said that though all the three witnesses have stated that the incident occurred in a residential area, no statements were recorded from public persons.
“For the reasons best known to him, no inquiry has been conducted by the IO from any of the residents of the area or any of the shops nearby. Even though IO submits that he was present at the spot for two hours for recovering the CCTV footages of the area, he seems to have failed to collect the basic evidence from the spot itself. It is apparent from the case file that some basic and material aspects of investigation have not been covered by him either because of his ignorance or because some other intervening factors best known to him,” said the court.
On digital evidence, the court said it is surprising that despite having received material evidence from an SI on WhatsApp with respect to the occurrence of the alleged incident, the IO conveniently chose to let it drain away rather then bringing it on court record to prove the prosecution case.
“The conduct of the IO in not bringing on record a material piece of evidence despite availability and rather letting it washed away in a casual manner also raises questions about his basic knowledge of investigation in criminal cases as well as his seriousness towards investigation of the case,” said the court.
The court also questioned IO’s failure to prepare a site plan during the investigation and expressed surprise that the chargesheet had been forwarded by the ACP “without making any observation”.
The court further said that even though it has been claimed that the order under Section 144 CrPC was given wide publicity, nothing has been brought on record in this regard. “Knowledge of the Accused persons of the order promulgated by the Government servant is an essential ingredient for completion of the offence u/s 188 IPC and IO has clearly failed to bring any oral testimony to this effect or documentary evidence to prove the same. Hence, from this aspect as well the Prosecution case falls flat on the ground,” it added.
Title: STATE Vs. RAAJ KUMAR ANAND & ANR