Law & Judiciary

    Court denies bail to Umar Khalid in Delhi riots larger conspiracy case 2020

    The Hawk
    May28/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Khalid has been in custody since September 2020 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His counsel argued that no terror case is made out against him, citing delays and parity with other accused.

    Umar Kahlid

    New Delhi: The Delhi Court on Tuesday dismissed the bail plea of Umar Khalid in connection with the Delhi riots larger conspiracy case 2020 registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

    He has been in custody since September 2020 in a case under UAPA.

    Former JNU student leader Umar Khalid has sought regular bail on the grounds of delay and parity with other accused persons.

    Special judge Sameer Bajpai rejected the regular bail plea of Umar Khalid. It was the second regular bail application of Umar Khalid.

    Meanwhile, a detailed bail order is yet to be uploaded.

    After withdrawing his bail plea from the Supreme Court in February, Khalid moved to trial court, seeking bail on the grounds of a change in circumstances and parity with other accused persons.

    It is alleged by the Delhi Police that Umar Khalid had pre-planned protests in 2020 at 23 sites that culminated in riots.

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    The Delhi Police's Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) opposed the plea calling it frivolous and baseless, and also filed written submissions.

    Umar Khalid's Counsel had argued that no terror case was made out against him and his name was repeated in the charge sheet of Delhi police. Repeating his name doesn't make a lie, a truth. There was a vicious media trial taken against him. He had also filed his written submissions.

    Senior advocate Tridip Pais questioned the submissions of Delhi Police and asked "Is sharing messages a criminal or terror act?"

    He also responded to submissions earlier made by the Special public prosecutor (SPP) who had said that Khalid was amplifying his narrative as part of a conspiracy by sharing certain links with people from politics and others on social media. Pais argued that Umar Khalid was sharing the 'correct narrative'.

    The senior advocate had also submitted that there was a vicious media trial taking place against Umar Khalid. He also referred to various statements from news anchors from different media channels. He said that anchors were reading from the charge sheet around the clock.

    He further argued that no terror case is made against Umar Khalid, and police have no material to this effect. The court must see whether a terror case is made against him or not.

    There are contradictions in the statements of prosecution witnesses, Pais added. In this situation, the court must determine whether the witness statement prima facie makes a terror case against Umar Khalid.

    Earlier, it was argued that the accused persons, namely Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha were granted bail by the High Court. They had a similar role to that of Umar Khalid.

    While opposing the bail application of Umar Khalid, Delhi police had said that his chats revealed that he is in the habit of creating narratives on media and social media to influence bail hearings.

    It was also submitted by the Special Public Prosecutor that several people took to X (earlier Twitter) to influence bail hearings. He had referred to the post on X by Teesta Seetalvad, Amnesty India, Akar Patel, Raj Kaushik, Swati Chaturvedi, Arju Ahmed and others.

    The Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) while opposing the bail application of Umar Khalid referred to his WhatsApp chats.

    The SPP had submitted, "WhatsApp chats also revealed that he is in habit of creating media and social media narratives at the time of listing bail applications of the person booked in cases to clearly influence bail hearings."

    " Similar exercise is being adopted while applicants' bails are being listed to influence his bail hearings, samples of post on X (earlier Twitter) with hashtag about applicant annexed herewith," SPP added.

    "Thus, in the light of the aforesaid, the present second application for grant of bail to the accused deserves to be dismissed by this honourable court in the interest of justice," SPP Prasad submitted.

    SPP Amit Prasad also mentioned the post on Twitter by Teesta Seetalvad, Aakar Patel, Kaushik Raj, Swati Chaturvedi, Arju Ahmed and others.

    SPP had also read some of the tweets in the court. One of the tweets read "Ram Raheem''s parole approved, Umar Khalid bail 14 times adjourned in SC. #freeumarkhalid"

    "Umar Khalid withdraws his bail petition from SC. This is a travesty of Justice," another tweet read

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    SPP submitted that Amnesty India also tweeted which read, "SC has adjourned hearing his bail hearing 14 times. Acute Subversion of the right of Umar Khalid to get bail. #freeUmarKhalid was used," the SPP submitted.

    The SPP argued that while they claim that they were subjected to media trial, it is he who was playing around with the media, how his father giving interviews in the media and people associated with him also doing the same.

    In his rebuttal arguments, Senior Advocate Tridip Pais argued that mere meetings of accused individuals don't imply terrorism. None of the witnesses didn't say anything but then miraculously said something two weeks later.

    All the witnesses here seem to be taking tablets for memory. Prima facie requires depth, not frivolously reading out the chargesheet, Pais argued.

    Senior advocate Pais submitted that the prosecution argument is that I (Umar Khalid) can fain tension. Therefore, I don't deserve bail. His father gave an interview; therefore, he doesn't deserve the bail.

    While arguing, the senior advocate referred to the Supreme Court judgement in Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Shoma Sen and Varnan Gonsalves.

    It was submitted that the allegations should be good enough to establish that allegations are substantive, to reject the bail. The duty of the court is not to deal with the material meticulously but to see the broad probability, senior advocate added.

    On the point of terrorist activity aspect, it was submitted that There is no evidence to show it is a terrorist activity. There is nothing on record to attract Section 15 of UAPA.

    The High Court and the Special Court haven't distinguished between the acts or persons. They've just painted everything with a broad brush. There is not a single witness whose statement attracts 15(1) qua me (Umar Khalid).

    On the point of meeting Umar Khalid, the defence counsel rejected the prosecution's arguments that meetings were secret.

    He said that Umar Khalid, Tahir Hussain and Khalid Saifi met at the office of PFI has been referred by the Prosecution on the basis of the statement of a witness, CDR.

    "You want to rely on CDR to deny me bail, Pais questioned. As per CDR, they were not there at the given time and date," he argued.

    He further argued that there is no credible case of conspiracy, which is also not terror activity. There is no seizure from me, which can attract the offence of terror activity.

    "On the whimsical statement, sometimes even without witnesses, an act of terrorism is foisted towards me," Pais submitted.

    It was also said that Bangladeshi women and children were deployed at the protest sites. Did any woman say that it was against me," Pais questioned.

    In the Varnan Gonsalves and Shoma Sen case, the views of the Supreme Court on prima facie and analysis of prima facie have been clarified, the defence counsel argued.

    Pais argued that at the time of hearing bail, the court was under a duty to scan the case diary to decide that the allegations were prima facie true or not. Third-party hearsay can not be attributed to me.

    "Mere having a meeting is not enough to oppose the bail. There is no material as of now. The bail cannot be denied as the material can come later," Pais argued.

    If ten witnesses state my name, does that make a terror case against me? I have not indulged in a terrorist act. There is not even a seizure from me, Pais submitted.