2020 Delhi riots: Court acquits 3 of arson, theft charges

A court here has acquitted three people charged with indulging in arson and theft during the 2020 northeast Delhi riots, saying the prosecution was unable to even prove there was a riotous mob behind the incidents being probed.

The court was hearing a case against Dinesh Yadav, Sandeep and Tinku, who were accused of being a part of the riotous mob that committed theft and vandalism at a furniture shop. They were also charged with committing mischief by fire and explosive substance to destroy a tailoring unit in Bhagirathi Vihar on the intervening night of February 24 and 25, 2020.

“I find that charges levelled against the accused persons are not proved at all. Hence, the accused are acquitted of all the charges levelled against them in this case,” Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala said in an order passed on Wednesday.

“It is the case of the prosecution that the accused persons were members of the mob, which vandalized both properties. However, the prosecution even could not prove that there was a mob behind these incidents and in that situation, the inevitable conclusion is that there is no evidence on the record to show the involvement of the accused persons in the incidents ,” the judge added.

ASJ Pramachala said there could be a “strong possibility” that incidents at the two properties were caused by a riotous mob but the possibility could not become evidence.

“…it has remained a matter of presumption of prosecution, based on hearsay evidence or on the basis of possibility only, that there was a mob behind these incidents,” the judge said.

He said the legal proposition was well settled that presumption or strong suspicion could not be a substitute for evidence, and so for the want of evidence, it could not be held that there was a riotous mob behind the two incidents.

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The judge said the prosecution had relied on the evidence of four prosecution witnesses but none of them said anything about having witnessed the incidents.

Gokalpuri police station had registered an FIR against the three accused on the basis of a complaint under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including, 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc.), 380 (theft in dwelling house, etc.) and 454 (lurking house-trespass or house-breaking).

Another complaint was later clubbed with the FIR.

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