Hearing an application by the Delhi Police for the unredacted statements of protected witnesses in the Delhi Riots larger conspiracy case, the Delhi High Court today directed the concerned trial court to send the statements to it in a sealed cover on or before Apr 14. The application was put in the case where Jamia Milia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha faces prosecution for his alleged role in the riots.
While ordering so, the court also expressed surprise on why and how the prosecution did not have copies of the statements of its own witnesses, upon which it was informed by the Special Public Prosecutor Rajat Nair, that as these were protected witnesses, the unredacted copies of the statements were with the trial court only - and that the Investigating Officer was only given the redacted copies from the trial court till now. The order was passed by a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani.
Reserving order on Tanha's bail plea, the court had earlier asked the police to file their written submissions, unredacted copies of witness statements and other relevant documents - the names and personal details of protected witnesses have been redacted in their statements.
Tanha was arrested on charges of being part of a 'larger premeditated conspiracy' in the riots in May last year and his bail application was dismissed in October, on the ground that he allegedly played an active role in the entire conspiracy. The Delhi Police had argued before the High Court that a strong prima facie case existed against Tanha and that under S.43D of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, an accused should not be released on bail or on his own bond if the court found a prima facie case against the accused. While Tanha was represented by Adv. Siddharth Agarwal, Addl. Solicitor General Aman Lekhi had appeared on behalf of the State authorities