New Delhi: The riots in northeast Delhi in 2020 were a “pre-planned and premeditated conspiracy” and did not take place in a spur of the moment, the Delhi High Court said Monday.
The judgment, passed by Justice Subramonium Prasad, said, “The riots which shook the National Capital of the country in February 2020 evidently did not take place in a spur of the moment, and the conduct of the protestors who are present in the video footage which has been placed on record by the prosecution visibly portrays that it was a calculated attempt to dislocate the functioning of the Government as well as to disrupt the normal life of the people in the city.”
“The systematic disconnection and destruction of the CCTV cameras also confirms the existence of a pre-planned and premeditated conspiracy to disturb law and order in the city. This is also evident from the fact that innumerable rioters ruthlessly descended with sticks, dandas, bats etc. upon a hopelessly outnumbered cohort of police officials,” the court added.
The observations were made while the court was hearing a bail application filed by one Mohd Ibrahim, who was arrested in an FIR filed on 25 February at Dayalpur police station under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 302 (murder), and provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984. The FIR related to the alleged murder of Delhi Police head constable Ratan Lal.
According to the judgment, the investigation in the case is already complete and five charge sheets have been filed since June last year. Ibrahim was arrested in the case on 30 March last year and he had now contended that he had been falsely implicated.
The court acknowledged that Ibrahim cannot be seen at the scene of crime but justified its decision pointing out that he “has been clearly identified on multiple CCTV footages, carrying a sword and instigating the crowd”.
It then denied him bail, observing, “This Court has previously opined on the importance of personal liberty in a democratic polity, but it is to be categorically noted that individual liberty cannot be misused in a manner that threatens the very fabric of civilised society by attempting to destabilise it and cause hurt to other persons.”
Skull cap, Nehru jacket, salwar-kurta
The charge sheet against Ibrahim alleged that as per video footage, he was seen leading other rioters who were coming from the Mustafabad side, and claimed that he also admitted in his disclosure statement that he had assaulted the police personnel with his sword.
Demanding bail in the high court, Ibrahim’s lawyer had contended that Lal died due to a gunshot injury, and tried to highlight the possibility of the shot being fired by a police officer’s gun. He also contended that Ibrahim was not visible in any CCTV footage and was not present at the scene of crime, as his mobile ID location placed him at New Mustafabad at the time of the alleged incident.
The court order, however, noted that as per the video footage, Ibrahim was visible on at least five cameras, “wearing a skull cap, black Nehru jacket, and salwar-kurta…with a sword in his hand.” It then observed that a sword is “prima facie a dangerous weapon”.
In response, his lawyer had contended that the sword was merely for self-defence to protect himself and his family. The court, however, said that this argument “does not hold any water” because the video footage placed Ibrahim 1.6 kilometres away from his residence and did not reveal any immediate impending harm to him.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)