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Police Statements Inconsistent With Video Footages, Riots Accused Argue In Delhi High Court Seeking Bail

Nupur Thapliyal
7 Aug 2021 3:53 AM GMT
Police Statements Inconsistent With Video Footages, Riots Accused Argue In Delhi High Court Seeking Bail
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Contending that there were loopholes and contradictions in Delhi Police's investigation with regards to a Delhi Riots case, an accused seeking regular bail told the Delhi High Court on Friday that nobody in the country is safe if the Court does not take a judicial note of prosecution's manipulation of witnesses and other crucial facets of investigation.The said submission was made by...

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Contending that there were loopholes and contradictions in Delhi Police's investigation with regards to a Delhi Riots case, an accused seeking regular bail told the Delhi High Court on Friday that nobody in the country is safe if the Court does not take a judicial note of prosecution's manipulation of witnesses and other crucial facets of investigation.

The said submission was made by Senior Advocate Rebecca John appearing for accused Shadab Ahmed in FIR 60/2020. John argued so while emphasizing on the fact that the entire edifice of criminal trial rests upon the right to a fair trial coupled with a fair investigation.

A single judge bench comprising of Justice Subramonium Prasad was hearing bail applications moved on behalf of eleven accused persons in connection with a Delhi riots case. 

During the course of hearing on Friday, Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir along with Senior Advocate Rebecca John started their rebuttal for the accused persons after SPP Amit Prasad along with ASG SV Raju concluded their submissions for the Prosecution.

Rebuttal Arguments on behalf of accused Mohd. Arif

Advocate Mir appearing for accused Mohd. Arif argued that there were inconsistencies between the video footages and statements of police constable witnesses relied upon by the Prosecution. He submitted that the said statements of the constables were recorded after a period of reasonable delay.

"They have not made an entry that this incident happened in our presence. They made it two or three months down the line." Mir submitted.

Mir also submitted that the video footage relied upon by SPP Prasad to show presence of Arif at the scene of crime cannot be considered as a convincing piece of evidence to reject him bail in the case. 

"Identification from the back side is impossible. Therefore prosecution now comes up with a private report which has no sanctity at all." Mir submitted.

Mir also submitted that the prosecution was trying to create a dent on the judgment delivered by the High Court in case of Mohd. Mansoor v. State of NCT of Delhi wherein bail was granted to the riot accused after opining that his identification before the Trial Court and the High Court was at variance.

To this, Justice Prasad said that the question of Arif's identification by way of the software relied on by the prosecution or him being a part of the protest is a matter of trial and that the High Court cannot go into such questions at the time of grant of bail.

Mir concluded his arguments by submitting that Arif was not at flight risk and that he belonged to the poorest strata of the society. 

"He is a simple clothes seller. His daughter has a very strong disease. His family needs him." Mir submitted while concluding his submissions.

Rebuttal Arguments on behalf of accused Shadab Ahmed

The primary thrust of Senior Advocate Rebecca John's submissions was that Shadab Ahmed was not present at the crime scene or where the violence erupted at the relevant day of the Riots.

To show this, John relied primarily upon three independent witnesses statements relied upon by the Prosecution and submitted that the highest allegation against Ahmed can be that he did not pay heed to what anyone was saying. However, she said that the same cannot be attributed as incitement to commit riots or asking anybody to indulge in violence.

"Their case has to be definitive. We don't have to fill up their gaps. I pay the price for the gaps in their case. I'm in custody. They are not in custody." John submitted.

While reading the statement, John also submitted that the witness specifically stated that the provocation was caused from the side of the police which caused anguish amongst people from the nearby areas, a fact which was concealed by prosecution before the Court.

Referring to another statement by the second independent witness, John submitted that the only role attributed to Ahmed from the statement was that he was in charge of the food and stage. 

"What role does he attributes to me? That I was handling food, that I managed the stage, that there used to be sher-o-shayari. And without naming anyone, he said these people said that prepare for tomorrow." She submitted.

In view of this, John submitted that the said witness did not name him as a responsible person for violence that happened at the Wazirabad site.

Relying on the third and last independent witness statement, John submitted that his supplementary statement was recorded two days after recording of his  Section 164 CrPC statement.

"Look at the dishonesty in recording this statement. They are taking clarification from the witness before the trial has started. Everything he says, they are asking him to retract. Is this fair? While you keep me in custody." John argued.

"How do we defend ourselves? What do we do? This is deeply painful? And if there is no judicial notice in these kinds of manipulation, nobody in this country is safe. The entire edifice is based on fair trial and fair investigation." John said further.

After hearing the matter at length, the Court adjourned further hearing to Monday.

Earlier, the Court heard ASG SV Raju who told the Court that the violence did not occur in the spur of the moment but was a result of "meticulous planning". He stated that women and children were kept at the forefront of the mob, disabling police from taking any action against stone-pelting.

The Court had also posed a question to the prosecution that whether the accused persons be kept in continued detention, even after 16 months.

Title: Md. Arif v. State and connected cases 

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