Court discharges 11 accused in 2019 Jamia Nagar violence, says booked as ‘scapegoats’
Eleven 11 people, including Sharjeel Imam and Asif Iqbal Tanha, accused in 2019 Jamia Nagar violence, have been discharged by a court, according to media reports.
It said the Delhi Police was unable to apprehend the actual perpetrators and it booked the accused as “scapegoats”.
The court, however, ordered framing of charges against one of the accused, Mohammad Ilyas.
“Marshalling the facts as brought forth from a perusal of the chargesheet and three supplementary chargesheets, this court cannot but arrive at the conclusion that the police were unable to apprehend the actual perpetrators behind the commission of the offence, but surely managed to rope the persons herein as scapegoats,” Additional Sessions Judge Arul Varma said.
The Jamia Nagar police station had filed the chargesheet against Imam, Tanha, Safoora Zargar, Mohammad Qasim, Mahmood Anwar, Shahzar Raza Khan, Mohammad Abuzar, Mohammad Shoaib, Umair Ahmad, Bilal Nadeem, Chanda Yadav and Mohammad Ilyas.
Imam was accused of instigating the riots by delivering a provocative speech at the Jamia Milia University on December 13, 2019. He will continue to remain in jail as he is an accused in the larger conspiracy case of the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.
The chargesheet was filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
The chargesheet also included provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
An FIR was lodged in connection with the violence that erupted after a clash between police and people protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the Jamia Nagar area here December 2019.
The judge said there were admittedly scores of protesters at the site and some anti-social elements within the crowd could have created an environment of disruption and havoc, reported the PTI.
“However, the moot question remains — whether the accused persons herein were even prima facie complicit in taking part in that mayhem? The answer is an unequivocal no,” he added.
The court said the legal proceedings against the 11 accused were initiated in a “perfunctory and cavalier fashion” and “allowing them to undergo the rigmarole of a long-drawn trial does not augur well for the criminal justice system of the country”.
“Furthermore, such police action is detrimental to the liberty of citizens who choose to exercise their fundamental right to peacefully assemble and protest. The liberty of the protesting citizens should not have been lightly interfered with,” it said.
The judge said “it would be pertinent to underscore that dissent is nothing but an extension of the invaluable fundamental right to Freedom of Speech and Expression contained in Article 19 of the Constitution of India, subject to the restrictions contained. It is therefore a right which we are sworn to uphold,” reported the IE.
“When something is repugnant to our conscience, we refuse to obey it. This disobedience is constituted by duty. It becomes our duty to disobey anything that is repugnant to our conscience,” the court said.