2020 Delhi riots: Court acquits man of rioting, arson charges

 A court here has acquitted a man of charges of rioting and arson in a case pertaining to the 2020 northeast Delhi riots by giving him the benefit of doubt.

The court observed that a police official “probably” made an “artificial claim” regarding identifying the accused — Noor Mohammad — as part of a riotous mob that torched a shop on the Main Karawal Nagar Road on February 24, 2020.

“I find that charges levelled against the accused in this case are not proved beyond reasonable doubt and the accused is entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Hence, the accused is acquitted of all the charges levelled against him,” Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala said in a judgment dated August 11.

Noting the evidence before the court, he said there was “no doubt” that the shop was “vandalised and set ablaze by the rioters”.

Regarding the identification of Mohammad as part of the riotous mob, Judge Pramachala noted the testimony of a police constable, who deposed about having identified the accused on April 2, 2020, inside a police station when Mohammad was being interrogated for his alleged involvement in another rioting case.

The court also noted that the investigating officer (IO) concerned had taken Mohammad to the place of the incident on April 1 regarding the other case and at that time, the constable was present with him.

On that day, however, the constable did not inform the IO about Mohammad’s involvement in the present case, the court said.

“In these circumstances, it is probable that an artificial claim of having seen the accused among the rioters behind the incident at the shop was made. Otherwise, he (the constable) could not have informed the IO about the involvement of the accused in the present case on April 1 itself,” it said and added that thus, the constable’s testimony was not reliable.

“Therefore, the presence of the accused is not well established in the mob at the time of the incident at the shop,” the court said.

The Khajuri Khas police station had registered an FIR against the accused.

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