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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Delhi HC sets aside bail to Rajdhani school owner in NE riots case

“Personal liberty of an individual, though precious, is of little value if the larger interest of the people and nation are at stake,” said Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, while setting aside the trial court order by which Farooq was granted bail.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi | Updated: November 3, 2020 10:00:03 am
The school was damaged in the riots. (Express Archive)

Allowing a petition of Delhi Police against the grant of bail to Rajdhani Public School owner Faisal Farooq in a Northeast Delhi riots case, the Delhi High Court Monday said the entire country is “aggrieved” by the “action of such offenders”, who “tarnish the basic secular fabric of the nation”, and observed that they need to be punished severely. “Personal liberty of an individual, though precious, is of little value if the larger interest of the people and nation are at stake,” said Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, while setting aside the trial court order by which Farooq was granted bail.

Though Farooq was granted bail by the lower court on June 20, the same was stayed by the HC on June 22 in a petition filed by Delhi Police against it. When the stay order was vacated by the HC on July 2, Farooq’s release was again stayed by the Supreme Court. He continues to remain in judicial custody since March 9.

Farooq is accused by the police of allowing rioters to enter his school and using its terrace to cause damage to the nearby DRP Public and other surrounding structures. A huge quantity of stones, bricks, petrol bombs, ropes and a large catapult was found “already stored” on the terrace of Farooq’s Rajdhani Public School, as per the prosecution.

However, Farooq argued he was not at the school at the time of violence and left an hour before 3 pm — the violence is said to have taken place much after that. He had called six times to police for help and made complaints about the damage caused to his school, as per his counsel.

On perusal of the record, Justice Kait in the order said there is “evidence” the “rioters entered the school” on February 24 in the afternoon and continued “unabated” till February 25. It also noted DVRs at the premises of Farooq’s school were made non-functional around 6 pm on February 24 and witnesses and CCTV footage “established” that Farooq is clearly seen around 1.24 pm in the school. CCTV also shows Farooq in front of the school till 2.08 pm, as per the order.

“It seems the riots were carried out in such an organised manner that a large-size iron catapult was manufactured and installed at rooftop of the school of respondent (Farooq) for pelting stones and petrol bombs downwards, this sort of instrument can never be made in a spur of moment,” the court said, adding that Farooq’s CDR analysis also reveals he was in continuous contact with “various members of other groups involved in other offences”.

Observing that the trial court has failed to appreciate that while deciding an application of bail, the “interest of society” is also to be safeguarded, Justice Kait said the facts recorded in the bail order under challenge are contrary to the record. The court also noted that Farooq is wealthy and has a reputation as well as roots in society.

“Since investigation in the present FIR is pending and prosecution is likely to file supplementary chargesheet, therefore, the respondent/accused may influence witnesses and hamper investigation and trial,” the single bench said in the order.

It said bail has been granted to Farooq at a premature stage while ignoring relevant material on record. It also noted that Farooq’s absence from the spot does not absolve him of his liability in the case as he has been charged with criminal conspiracy, and that investigation regarding the “larger conspiracy” behind the riots is still being conducted.De

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