2020 Delhi riots case: Court frames charges of rioting, arson against 9 accused

A court here has framed charges of rioting, arson and house trespass against nine accused in a 2020 Delhi riots case, saying the “probative value” of evidence at this stage was not to be considered.

Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala was hearing a case against Shah Alam, Rashid Saifi, Mohammed Shadab, Habib, Irfan, Suhail, Salim, Irshad and Azhar, who were accused of being part of a riotous mob that engaged in assault, vandalism and arson across seven separate incidents on February 24, 2020, in Dayalpur.

Noting the statements of eyewitnesses, the judge said there was a mob which indulged in vandalism and arson in several properties from around 11 AM to 5 PM and all the accused persons were identified to be part of this mob.

ASJ Pramachala said according to the prosecution’s site plan, the incidents reported by seven complainants occurred in close vicinity. He said CCTV footage was used to identify the rioters.

“Thus, it is apparent that all these incidents took place when this riotous mob was on a rampage,” he said in an order passed on Tuesday.

Rejecting the defence’s argument about the credibility of evidence, the court said at the stage of framing charges, the “probative value” of evidence was not to be considered.

“If the evidence on the record satisfies the ingredients of the alleged offences and raises serious suspicion against the accused persons, to connect them with the alleged incidents, then the court is supposed to conduct the trial in the case, by framing the charges,” it said.

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Underlining that being a police official did not make a person a “less credible witness,” the court said at the present stage it could not any statement of the witness as false or incredible.

“Thus, on the basis of allegations made by complainants and the evidence available on the record, I find the accused persons liable to be tried for offences punishable under IPC sections 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 379 (theft) and 341 (wrongful restraint)…,” the court said.

It said all accused were also liable to be tried for the offences of house trespass, causing mischief by fire or explosive substance, unlawful assembly and disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant.

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