2020 Delhi riots: Court pulls up police for ‘half-hearted’ probe, seeks written explanation

 A Delhi court has come down heavily on the city police for conducting “further investigation” in a 2020 communal riots case after filing charge sheet in a “half-hearted manner” and asked the officer concerned to appear before it with a written explanation.

Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala was hearing the arguments on charges against three accused in the northeast Delhi riots case, where the FIR was registered by the Gokalpuri police station.

Noting that initially 25 complaints were clubbed in the case and the court in April last year had directed that only 17 complaints would be “entertained” in the present case, the court said the Investigating Officer (IO) had filed a new supplementary charge sheet on May 17, 2023, for prosecuting 22 complaints.

The IO’s stand was based on the recording of fresh statements of some of the complainants to show that they had initially mentioned the wrong date and time of the alleged rioting incidents at their premises, the court noted in an order passed on Monday.

It said, “This is a very disturbing trend of investigation, where after the filing of a charge sheet, IO records statement at any subsequent point of time as per his wish, even without seeking any permission from the court and in defiance of laws under Section 173(8) of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).”

Section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with further investigation in a case.

“The lack of seriousness in the stand being taken by the prosecution is well reflected in the fluctuations in the same since the beginning till date,” the court said.

It said even according to the new statements, the complainants did not claim to be eyewitnesses and while modifying the date and time of the alleged incidents, they referred to “some neighbours”.

“Who were those neighbours, are not known, courtesy the half-hearted investigation done by the IO,” the court said.

ASJ Pramachala said the case was earlier referred to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (northeast district) for assessing the “IO’s approach” and delay in the case.

“The supplementary charge sheet being filed by IO with forwarding from Station House Officer (SHO) and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), taking a contrary stand as taken by them in the past, cannot be accepted without seeking clarification and explanation from the investigating agency,” the judge said.

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He said the court wanted to know how further investigation without taking any permission from the court was conducted, “that too in a half-hearted manner, with probably a predetermined objective to show that all the incidents had taken place on a particular date and time”.

The judge underlined that for each incident, the date and time of the occurrence cannot be based on “hearsay evidence”.

“Copy of the order be sent to DCP (northeast) and it is expected that the DCP himself or some other responsible senior officer shall appear before the court with an explanation in writing,” he said.

The matter has been listed on November 20 for further proceedings.

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