2020 Delhi Riots: Nine Men Accused of Torching Medical Store Acquitted by Court

A court here has acquitted nine men in a case of setting a medical store on fire by a mob during the 2020 northeast Delhi riots, saying the sole testimony of a witness was insufficient to assume their presence and that the accused were entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

The court was hearing a case against nine men accused of being part of a riotous mob that torched a medical store on the main Brijpuri Road in Bhagirathi Vihar on February 25, 2020.

“I find that charges levelled against all the accused persons are not proved beyond doubt. Hence, the accused are acquitted of all the charges levelled against them in this case,” Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala said in a recent order.

The judge said it was “well established” that an unlawful assembly was involved in rioting, vandalism and arson — thereby damaging and burning the shop.

But for the identification of the accused, three public witnesses — including the complainant — did not support the prosecution’s case and were declared hostile, the court said.

The identity of the accused was not proved by the evidence of two police officials and Constable Vipin remained the only prosecution witness to establish that they were part of the mob.

Despite knowing the names and particulars of the accused, the constable formally recorded the information with a delay on March 20, 2020, the court noted.

“Keeping in view such delay in disclosure of vital information being recorded, I find it desirable to apply the test of consistent testimony of more than one witness in the present case,” the judge said.

He said on the application of the “test”, the constable’s sole testimony was not sufficient to assume the presence of any of the accused in the mob.

“In such a situation, (the) accused persons are given the benefit of doubt,” the judge said.

A charge sheet was filed by officials at Gokalpuri police station against Mohd Shahnawaz, Mohd Shoaib, Shahrukh, Rashid, Azad, Ashraf Ali, Parvej, Mohd Faisal and Rashid under various provisions, including rioting, of the Indian Penal Code.

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