“I do not owe explanation to anyone in this country that I protested CAA”: Khalid Saifi tells court

Khalid Saifi

Seeking bail in the northeast Delhi violence conspiracy case involving charges under draconian UAPA, United Against Hate founding member and activist Khalid Saifi told a Delhi Court that he does not owe an explanation to anyone about his participation in the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

“I do not owe any explanation to anyone in this Country including the Delhi Police that I participated in the protest,” said Khalid Saifi who was arrested by Delhi Police on 26 February 2020, and has been incarcerated in the city’s Jail since then.

“I’m not denying the fact, and I’m saying it with full responsibility that Khalid Saifi did protest against CAA, NRC, and as did I and so many people in this room. That does not make him or any of us culpable,” Live Law quotes senior advocate Rebecca John appearing for Saifi.

“If I and others like me, feel that CAA NRC is an unjust law. I have every right to protest. That in its own is not indicative of any conspiracy,” she added.

“Constitutionally recognised right”

John who had begun arguments in Saifi’s bail application before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, told Rawat that the “prosecution needs to be reminded that the right to protest is a constitutionally recognised right.”

John began by placing reliance on the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in NIA v. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali to submit that as compared to other special statutes including MCOCA, TADA etc. where degree of satisfaction is higher, the degree of satisfaction is lower in UAPA, Live Law reported.

“My statement is that for the purpose of granting bail, they must cross the threshold of prima facie true,” John argues.

She also said that the “present case is nothing but a direct attack on the fundamental right of the Applicant to free speech.”

Khalid Saifi has been falsely implicated by the police in the present case, in order to cover up and deflect attention, she alleged.

Fabricated witness

Rebecca John argued that the statements of two of the three witnesses were fabricated as they did not level the same allegations against Khalid Saifi in FIR 44/2020, in which he has been granted bail.

“If it’s not their story in that FIR, I’m entitled to say that it’s a fabrication,” she submitted.

Coming to the third witness, Saifi’s lawyer John submitted that the said witness pretended to be a Muslim and that he was snooping in the protest site.

“He says he knew Ishrat Jahan and Saifi very well and yet he is able to change his name. He grows a beard and pretends to be a Muslim and doesn’t get recognized. Look at this! Don’t judge out intelligence like that…Why isn’t this character part of FIR 44. A man who himself starts a statement that he knew all of us and still didn’t get recognized, as if we are all stupid and he is the one who is bright,” John submitted at the outset.

The court adjourned the hearing to September 9 when Rebecca John will continue to argue on the aspect of financial transactions alleged against Saifi, according to Live Law.