2020 Delhi riots: Court discharges 11 accused of murder, arson offences

A court here on Wednesday discharged 11 accused of all penal offences in a case related to the 2020 northeast Delhi riots, saying they cannot be “vicariously liable” for the incident of arson and murder in the present case because of their involvement in other rioting incidents.

The court, however, ordered the framing of charges of rioting, murder and arson against one accused, saying the evidence showed him as part of a riotous mob that was indulging in “acts against persons from Hindu communities and their properties.”

Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala was hearing a case against 12 people, who were accused of being part of a riotous mob that caused the death of a person while torching a godown in Chaman Park locality during the communal riots in the intervening night of February 24-25, 2020.

“The other accused persons, except Mohammed Shahnawaz, have been charge-sheeted in this case making them vicariously liable for the culpable homicide of Dilbar Negi (the victim who died in the blaze) on the basis of their presence in the riotous mob during the afternoon and evening in that area, as seen by different witnesses,” ASJ Pramachala said.

However, the presence of these accused persons in the mob during different points of time and their involvement in other incidents of riot cannot be a basis to make them vicariously liable for the incident of setting ablaze the property resulting in Negi’s death, he said.

The judge said the witnesses had identified none of the accused, except Shahnawaz.

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“In that situation, they cannot be made vicariously liable for setting this godown on fire, resulting in the death of Dilbar Negi,” the court said, adding, “The accused persons, except Shahnawaz, are entitled to discharge in this case.”

Regarding Shahnawaz’s role, the court said that the “evidence on the record shows him to be part of the riotous mob, which was indulging into acts against persons from Hindu communities and their properties, so as to vandalise and set on fire such properties and their act was also to damage the Hindu person in his body.”

The court said he was liable to be tried for various Indian Penal Code offences, including murder, rioting, arson, unlawful assembly, promoting enmity between different groups, house trespass to commit any offence punishable with imprisonment for life and disobedience to an order promulgated by a public servant.

The Gokalpuri police station had registered a case against Shahnawaz, Mohammed Faisal, Azad, Asraf, Rashid, Shahrukh, Mohammed Shoaib, Parvez, Rashid alias Raja, Mohammed Tahir, Salman and Sonu Saifi in the matter.

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