New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has granted bail to one Irshad Ahmed, a close aide of former Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, in a case related to the February riots. The court observed that two police constables, both eyewitnesses in the incident, who had recorded their statements against Ahmed were “planted”.
A bench led by Justice Suresh Kait Wednesday overruled the trial court order of Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav, who had declined to release Ahmed on bail. Ahmed has been booked for rioting and damaging public property during the clashes.
There are seven more cases against him in connection with the riots and this was the first in which he has been granted bail. Ahmed will, however, not be released from jail due to the other FIRs.
“As per the statement of constable Pawan and constable Ankit (both are eye-witnesses and were present at the spot), they had identified the petitioner and co-accused. However, they have not made any complaint on the date of incident, i.e. 25 February, 2020, whereas the FIR was lodged on 28 February, 2020. Thus, the witnesses seem to have been a planted one,” noted Justice Kait in his order, a copy of which is with ThePrint.
The judge ordered bail for Ahmed on a personal bond of Rs 25,000 and a surety of the same amount to the satisfaction of the trial court judge.
Legal experts ThePrint spoke to said the court’s observation on witnesses is likely to benefit other accused persons too, paving way for their release. “Such an observation was unwarranted even if the court in the totality of circumstances felt it was a case of grant of bail,” said advocate Gyanant Singh.
‘Trial court shall not get influenced’
The Dayalpur police station in Delhi, which had been probing this case against Ahmed, has already filed a chargesheet.
Opposing Ahmed’s bail petition, the prosecution had argued that the accused was among 100 people present on the terrace of Hussain’s house on the day of the clashes. They were throwing petrol bombs at members of the Hindu community, claimed the police.
Ahmed’s name was made part of the FIR (number 80/2020) on the basis of Hussain’s disclosure statement, the high court was told. But Ahmed’s presence at the site was confirmed by an independent witness and also his mobile phone location, the police said.
Additional Sessions Judge Yadav had dismissed Ahmed’s bail plea on the ground that in a pre-cognisance stage the court is bound by limitations to make in-depth analysis of witnesses, which are yet to be tested.
Justice Kait, however, took a divergent view and went ahead with Ahmed’s bail. He noted that there was no electronic evidence such as CCTV footage or photos to “implicate” Ahmed.
He then ordered, “Chargesheet has been filed. Trial of the case shall take substantial time. However, without commenting on the merits of the case, this court is inclined to grant bail to the petitioner.”
The judge also added that the trial court shall not get influenced by the observation made in the high court order, a condition, which advocate Singh said, has no relevance.
“Irrespective of this caution, this (order) is likely to be cited by other accused for their benefit to create doubt in the case of prosecution,” Singh added.