Tue, 28 Jun 2022

New Delhi [India], May 23 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Monday adjourned the hearing on the bail plea of Umar Khalid, an accused in a larger conspiracy related to the Northeast Delhi riots, till Tuesday. Umar Khalid has challenged the trial court order denying him bail in the case. The bench asked, "Was there any sense of fear in the aftermath of protests?"The Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar heard the submissions of senior advocate Tridip Pais on behalf of Umar Khalid.

Umar Khalid has been booked for conspiracy of riots and under stringent anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

"Khalid was not connected with Sharjeel Imam and the protest was not a terrorist act as they were directed against an unjust law. The statements of witnesses don't attribute any role to Umar Khalid and he was not present at the spot of violence," senior counsel on his behalf argued.

At the outset of his argument senior advocate, Tridip Pais submitted that the anti-CAA protests were not terrorist acts as they were against an unjust law. Protests were not perpetrating violence, which is contemplated under Section 15 of UAPA. Pais referred to some judgment related to TADA in support of his arguments.

He further argued that terrorism is a grave emergent situation created by external forces or by anti-national throwing a challenge to the very existence and sovereignty of the country in its democratic polity.

"On the other hand, the protests were against an unjust law by persons who want to be a part of the country. It is in no way an act against sovereignty," he argued.

Justice Mridul said, "As per precedents, terrorism is an act done with a view to disturb the even tempo of society, create a sense of fear in the mind of a section of society."" In the present charge sheet, is it the case of the prosecution that it instilled fear in the minds of a particular section of the society?" Justice Mridul further added.

The Senior Advocate replied, "we need to see who the victims are. They are the family members of people who are accused.

Justice Mridul asked, "Is it your case that all those who participated in the protests cannot fall in the category of victims? Pais responded, "they can. In fact, they are."Again Justice Mridul asked, "So was there fear instilled in the minds of these victims?""It has to be seen whether perpetrators individually or in connection with each other are responsible for it or not," Pais responded to the bench.

Justice Mridul said, "Our question is different, was there a sense of fear created in the aftermath of the protest or was there not? This charge sheet doesn't reflect it. And about me, absolutely not," Pais replied.

Justice Mridul said, "you are an accused, not a victim, I am asking about the victims, was there any fear? Pais replied that the charge sheet doesn't reflect it.""So your case is that there was a sense of insecurity instilled in the public but you had nothing to do with it," Justice Mridul questioned.

The senior advocate submitted that the charge sheet doesn't concern the victims.

"It concerns the alleged perpetrators and it is to be seen if there is sufficient evidence against me," he said.

Justice Mridul said, "But a sense of fear was there?" Pais replied, "Not of that gravity."The senior advocate submitted that we should not fall into the trap of interpreting everything as terror.

The senior counsel for the accused referred to the supplementary charge sheet and submitted that the statement made regarding the connection between Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam attribute communal character with absolutely no basis, and no witness.

Justice Mridul remarked, "it is verbose. I agree."On the point of sending messages in the WhatsApp group, Pais said, "There is nothing to show that the MSJ group was created in my direction. There is no communication between Sharjeel Imam and Umar Khalid. I had never spoken to him. At best we had been in one meeting. I was added to a Whatsapp group in which I did not share any messages."Tridip Pais also submitted that people against whom active roles of preparing protest have been given are left out, they are not accused. This is the enigma that this charge sheet is. "This amplifies my submission that my views and my speech were unpalatable and I suffer incarceration as a result of it," he said.

A special division bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar is hearing the bail petition on a daily basis.

This case pertains to a larger conspiracy of northeast Delhi riots of February 2020 in which 53 people dies and hundreds were got injured. In this case, the trial court had dismissed the bail plea of Umar Khalid. (ANI)

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