“Vague evidence,” Five accused in constable’s death during Delhi pogrom granted bail

Head Constable Ratan Lal | PTI

The Delhi High Court has granted bail to five persons accused of being part of a mob that allegedly murdered a police constable in North East Delhi during the pogrom last year. The court said that each member of the mob cannot be charged for murder.

Those granted bails include Mohd. Arif, Shadab Ahmad, Furkan, Suvaleen and Tabassum. While the order was reserved in 11 bail applications filed by different accused persons in the FIR, the HC passed orders in 5 of them.

“It is egregious and against the principles enshrined in our Constitution to allow an accused to remain languishing behind bars during the pendency of the trial,” Justice Subramonium Prasad observed, according to Live Law.

In the case of Arif who was arrested on 11.03.2020 and has been in judicial custody since then, the court noted that the applicability of Section 149 IPC, specifically read with Section 302, cannot be done on the basis of vague evidence and general allegations. When there is a crowd involved, at the juncture of grant or denial of bail, the court must hesitate before arriving at the conclusion that every member of the unlawful assembly inhabits a common intention to accomplish the unlawful common object. Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, appearing for Arif, argued that there were inconsistencies between the video footages and statements of police constable witnesses relied upon by the Prosecution. 

The High Court noted that there was no electronic evidence to place Furkan at the crime scene. Advocate Dinesh Tiwari, appearing for Furkan told court that he was not seen in any video clippings produced by the Police and he was not a part of the alleged unlawful assembly.

“There are no witnesses, no CCTV footage against him. Prosecution claims that violence is pre-planned. But there’s nothing on record to show that my clients were present in the meeting. They are not a part of any pre-planning,” Tiwari said while appearing for Suvaleen.

In the case of Shadab Ahmed also, the HC said he had not been caught on camera. Contending that there were loopholes and contradictions in Delhi Police’s investigation, Senior Advocate Rebecca John appearing on behalf of Shadab Ahmed, submitted before the court that nobody in the country is safe if the court does not take a judicial note of prosecution’s manipulation of witnesses and other crucial facets of investigation, reported Live Law.

While granting bail to Tabassum, the court said that the court could not rely on video footage as the accused were not clearly visible in it. Tabassum was jailed in November 2020.

Head Constable Ratan Lal died on February 24, 2020. A first information report filed by the police the next day alleged that he was killed by anti-CAA protesters near Chandbagh.