A Delhi Court has granted bail to Faizal Farooq - owner of Rajdhani and Victoria Public Schools - who was arrested for allegedly participating in the Delhi Riots, after noting that he was not present at the spot of the crime and that his own properties were damaged during the said riots.
While granting bail, the court rejected Delhi Police's argument which stated that the applicant has terror links as he was constantly being in touch with the members of Popular Front of India, Pinjra Tod Group and members of Jamia Millia Islamia.
The Court said that there was no material in the chargesheet to substantiate the allegations of terror links or terror funding against the accused.
"Except bald allegation, there is no material to substantiate that the applicant had conversated with the aforesaid persons in relation to communal riots. When the IO was confronted in this regard then he stated that further investigation on the aspect of terror funding is under way. Be that as it may, in the chargesheet there is hardly any material to substantiate the allegation of terror funding against the applicant".
The court further noted that there's nothing on record to suggest, prima facie, that the applicant was even present at the scene of occurrence when the riots were taking place.
"it is prima-facie not established that the applicant was present at the spot at the time of incident. It is an admitted position that several CCTV cameras were lying installed at Rajdhani Public School at various places, the footages whereof have been thoroughly scrutinized by the Investigating Agency but the presence of the applicant therein is not there. If the applicant was not present at the scene of occurrence then his involvement in the offences u/s 307/395/436/455 IPC can not be made out" , observed Additional Sessions Judge, Vinod Yadav of Karkardooma Court, Delhi.
The applicant argued that 307/395/436/455 of IPC can not be invoked against the applicant as there is no material on record which suggests his physical presence at the scene of occurrence during the riots.
While claiming that there has been an inordinate delay in lodging of the FIR, the applicant further argued that himself is a victim of riots as property of his two schools I.e.Rajdhani Public School and Victoria Public School was severely damaged in the riots.
The Investigating Officer, on the other hand, argued that offending materials such as empty cartridges, stones, one large iron catapult (gulel) were recovered from the roof of Rajdhani Public School.
While alleging that the applicant had deliberately facilitated the entry of rioters from the main gate of Rajdhani Public School, Delhi Police further argued that the applicant is in touch with the members of Popular Front of India, Pinjra Tod Group Joint Coordination Committee of Jamia Millia Islamia University through intermediaries.
While looking at the submissions, the court observed that in many cases of PS Dayalpur, the CCTV footage recovered from the cameras installed at Rajdhani Public School has assisted the police in nabbing the rioters.
The court also took note of the fact that the FIR on the complaints raised by the applicant against the damages caused to the schools owned by him were not registered by the police till March 05.
It was further observed by the court that the CCTV footage doesn't show the presence of the applicant at the scene of occurrence at the time when the riots were taking place.
While taking into consideration that statements made before Magistrate takes precedence over those made before the police, the court noticed that there are contradictions in the statements made by the eye witness before the police.
The court said:
'The Magistrate was right in dismissing the said application on the ground that the IO can not be permitted to make improvement in the statement of the witness. From the aforesaid, it is clearly apparent that there are contradictions in the various statements of this witness about applicant. In any case, the law is fairly clear that the statement of the witness recorded u/s 164 Cr.PC has precedence over his statement recorded u/s 161 Cr.PC.'
The court further noted that the chargesheet is bereft of material showing the links of the applicant with PFI, Pinjra Tod group and Muslim clerics. It said:
'The applicant is stated to have mobile conversations with one lady, namely, Kenat Surfraz who is stated to be having links with Saiful Islam Law Faculty whereas she is in fact reporter with Hindustan Times.'
While holding that the so called offending materials recovered from the terrace of the applicant's school after 16 days of the incident cannot be attributed to the applicant, the court observed that the applicant had himself made as many as 6 calls on 24.02.2020 to the police about damage to his school but the IO did not collect the PCR forms of the said calls.
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