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[Delhi Riots] High Court grants bail to accused: Observes State has been able to identify only 2 persons from crowd of 250-300 persons

The Delhi High Court on May 29, 2020 {FIROZ KHAN vs STATE OF NCT OF DELHI} held that prison is primarily for punishing convicts; not for detaining undertrials in order to send any ‘message’ to society. It was held that the remit of the court is to dispense justice in accordance with law, not to send messages to society. It was held that it is this sentiment, whereby the State demands that undertrials be kept in prison inordinately without any purpose, that leads to overcrowding of jails; and leaves undertrials with the inevitable impression that they are being punished even before trial and therefore being treated unfairly by the system.

The Single Judge of HC, Justice ANUP JAIRAM BHAMBHANI, further held that if at the end of a protracted trial, the prosecution is unable to bring home guilt, the State cannot give back to the accused the years of valuable life lost in prison. On the other hand, it was held that an accused would of course be made to under-go his sentence after it has been awarded, after trial.

The present bail application was filed by the accused before HC in one of the FIR(s) in infamous North-East Delhi Riots i.e. FIR No. 105/2020 registered on 04.03.2020 under sections 147/148/149/ 427/436 IPC at PS Dayalpur. The applicant was in custody since 03.04.2020.

The HC held that it is extremely important to note, that in the complainant’s statement upon which the FIR was recorded, the complainant says that when the rioters vandalised his shop, he telephoned the police but the police telephones were going busy; and that therefore he ran away to save his life. In the teeth of this statement of the complainant that there was no police help on hand, the HC observed that Ct. Vikas claims that he was present at the scene of the offence and inter-alia saw the applicant commit the offences. The HC observed that even on first blush, it is not understood as to why the complainant would say that he failed to reach the police by telephone, if Ct. Vikas was already present there.

The HC while having prima-facie look on the material on record, granted bail to the accused/ applicant and observed that:  (a)firstly, the supplementary statement of the complainant does not appear to identify the applicant; (b) secondly, according to the State itself, no CCTV footage is available of the the incident itself; (c) thirdly, Rajdhani Public School, the CCTV footage from which is relied upon by the State, appears to be located at a place from where the complainant’s shop seems unlikely to be visible; (d) fourthly, Ct. Vikas’s claim that he was present seems to be contradicted by the complainant’s statement as recorded in the FIR that the complainant was unable to contact the police and therefore, fled from the shop; (e) fifthly, co-accused Mohd. Anwar has already been admitted to bail in cases arising from the same incidents of rioting in the same area; (f) sixthly, investigation in the matter is complete and chargesheet has been drawn-up and sent for approval to higher police authorities; and lastly, when offences are alleged to have been committed by an ‘unlawful assembly’, after concluding investigation, the State has been able to identify and name only 2 persons from amongst a crowd of some 250-300 persons.

The Delhi High Court, therefore, concluded that it is persuaded to admit the applicant to regular bail, while imposing certain terms and conditions. Accordingly, the application stood allowed.

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