2020 Delhi riots: Court acquits 3 of vandalism, assault, arson charges

A sessions court hearing a case of the 2020 northeast Delhi riots has acquitted three accused of all charges, including vandalism, assault and arson as the prosecution could not prove them “beyond reasonable doubts”.

The court was hearing a case against Dinesh Yadav, Sandeep and Tinku, against whom an FIR was registered on the basis of five complaints.

According to the prosecution, the accused were part of a riotous mob that went on the rampage on February 24, 2020 in and around the Johripur Ganga Vihar pulia near Bhagirathi Vihar.

“I find that charges levelled against the accused persons in this case are not proved beyond all reasonable doubts and they are entitled to benefit of doubt. Hence, the accused are acquitted of all the charges levelled against them,” Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala said in a verdict pronounced on Tuesday.

The judge said it was “established” that the five incidents that were reported were caused by an unlawful assembly, which committed rioting, assault, vandalism and arson.

However, the court noted that only three prosecution witnesses, including constable Vipin, head constable Sanoj and auto driver Aaftab Alam, who was assaulted by the mob, had identified them.

The police officials, however, also mentioned the name of a fourth accused, a man called Sahil, as part of the mob, the court noted.

While the prosecution’s case was against the trio, the two police personnel mentioned the names of four accused “either on account of some confusion or out of a pre-determined mindset,” the court said.

It said both witnesses were initially examined about the incidents of rioting that occurred on February 25, and when the prosecution realised its mistake, the duo was examined again.

The court said the head constable did not identify the accused during his examination-in-chief (the first examination after the witness has been sworn or affirmed), and he identified them only after the public prosecutor, during the cross-examination, suggested that the three were part of the riotous mob.

“This identification does not inspire confidence. In these circumstances, I do not find it safe to rely upon their identification of the accused persons,” the judge said.

Regarding the auto driver’s testimony, the court noted his written complaint, according to which he could not identify the accused.

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“But, after more than two years, he identified the accused persons and in his examination-in-chief, he stated that the accused persons had tried to snatch away his purse and mobile phone, but they could not snatch it. However, when he was mercilessly beaten by the mob and he was not in a condition to protest, it is hard to accept that he was able to save his mobile phone and purse,” the court said.

Thus, his testimony could not be relied upon for identifying the accused, the court said.

“Even if it is concluded that the mob, during the prevailing riot on February 24, 2020, was responsible for the incidents, it is hard to say that any of the accused persons were liable for those incidents as probed in this case,” the court said.

The Gokalpuri police station had filed a charge sheet against the trio for various under penal sections of the IPC, including rioting, attempting to commit culpable homicide, lurking house trespass, theft and unlawful assembly.

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