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Delhi Riots Larger Conspiracy Case: High Court Issues Notice On Gulfisha Fatima's Plea Challenging Trial Court Order Denying Her Bail

Nupur Thapliyal
11 May 2022 5:36 AM GMT
Delhi Riots Larger Conspiracy Case: High Court Issues Notice On Gulfisha Fatimas Plea Challenging Trial Court Order Denying Her Bail
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Image Source : Huffington Post

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice on the appeal filed by Gulfisha Fatima challenging the Trial Court order denying her bail in connection with a case alleging larger conspiracy into the Delhi riots of 2020, involving charges under Indian Penal Code and UAPA.

A division bench comprising of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar listed the matter for further hearing on July 14.

Gulfisha was arrested on April 11, 2020 and was sent to judicial custody thereafter. She was given bail in FIR No. 50/2020 [PS­ Jafrabad], another case related to the riots.

Counsel appearing on behalf of Fatima apprised the Court that the appellant has been in custody now for over 2 years.

Accordingly, the Bench said that it will be hearing the appeal consequentially and will be going through the allegations against Fatima in the FIR.

The Bench is also hearing similar appeals filed by co accused in the FIR namely Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam which are posted for hearing this month.

While denying bail to Gulfisha, the Court said that there were reasonable grounds for believing that accusations against her were prima facie true, and hence, the embargo created by sec. 43D of UAPA applies for grant of bail, including the embargo contained in sec. 437 CrPC.

Accordingly, perusing the charge­sheet and accompanying documents, for the limited purpose of the bail, the Court was of the opinion that allegations against the accused Tasleem Ahmed and Gulfisha Fatima were prima facie true.

It has been the prosecution's case that while the riots were meticulously planned, there was destruction of properties, disruption of essential services, use of petrol bombs, lathis, stones etc and therefore meeting the criteria which is required under 15(1)(a)(i),(ii) and (iii) of the UAPA.

Prosecution had alleged that a total of 53 people died during the riots, 142 people were Injured in first phase of riots and other 608 were injured in the second phase.

It is also the prosecution's case that the 2020 sit-in protests were carefully planned, picking strategic protest sites closer to 25 mosques. It was therefore submitted that these sites were places with religious significance but were purposely given Secular names to give legitimate appearance to the allegedly communal protests.

The Prosecution had referred to a December 20, 2019 meeting which was attended by Umar Khalid with Harsh Mander, members of United Against Hate, Swatantra Nagrik Sangathan, etc. it was averred that this meeting was key in deciding the areas of protest and strategies to mitigate police clashes by keeping women at the forefront.

It was also argued that the the issue regarding the protests was not CAA or NRC but to embarrass the Government and to take such steps that it gets highlighted in the International media.

Main thrust of prosecution's arguments was that the DPSG group was a highly sensitive group wherein every small message was privately deliberated upon and then passed forward to other members and that every decision taken was conscious and well thought over.

It was alleged that while the case of the prosecution is not that every person who surfaces in the conspiracy has to be made an accused and that merely being silent on a group does not make one an accused, however, he added that in case evidence is found against any person, criminal action has to follow.

In this backdrop, it was argued that there was a 'conspiracy of silence' in committing the 2020 North East Delhi riots, idea behind which was to completely put the system under paralysis.

The FIR contains stringent charges including Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 of the UAPA, Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act and Section 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act,1984. The accused are also charged under various offences mentioned under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

In September last year, main chargesheet was filed against Pinjara Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha and student activist Gulfisha Fatima.

Others who were charge-sheeted included former Congress Councilor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Shifa-Ur-Rehman, suspended AAP Councilor Tahir Hussain, Umar Khalid, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Salim Malik, Mohd Salim Khan and Athar Khan.

Thereafter, a supplementary chargesheet was filed in November against former JNU student leader Umar Khalid and JNU student Sharjeel Imam in a case related to the alleged larger conspiracy in the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February.

Title: Gulfisha Fatima v. State

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