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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Delhi riots UAPA case: Lawyers for accused say no speedy redressal as prosecution has not filed reply for 5 months

The court was hearing the submissions when all the accused in the main conspiracy case were produced before the court.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
September 10, 2021 1:05:45 pm
DelhiStudent activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha (left) outside Tihar prison in New Delhi. (Express File Photo: Gajendra Yadav)

Lawyers for Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita – accused in a northeast Delhi riots UAPA case – told a Delhi court Friday that it has been five months and they were yet to get a reply from the prosecution on their application seeking a copy of the electronic evidence, and “where was the scope of the application if there is no speedy redressal.”

The submissions were addressed by lawyers Adit Pujari and Tusharika Mattoo, who told Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat that they have been accused by the prosecution of delaying the trial in this case whereas they were yet to get a reply to their application.

Pujari began his arguments by stating, “We moved this application in April. Five months have passed. We haven’t received a reply yet. Where is the scope of section 207 application if there is no speedy redressal?”

The court was hearing the submissions when all the accused in the main conspiracy case were produced before the court.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad told the court that there was a large amount of data which had to be analysed and there was also the question of privacy involved in this matter, and therefore the delay.

“What they are asking for is all the digital data that has been seized. What has happened is, during the course of investigation, the agency called various people and they were interrogated. Volume of data that has come out is huge. That data contains personal data of people whose equipments are seized. I will infringe upon their privacy.”

The SPP told the court that “It contains their financial data and their personal data.”

“For me to say that I will give to X and not Y, I need to have basis for that. We need to do analysis, before filing a reply. I need to come to a conclusion that these are the data, these are the equipment etc. That is the reason it is going to take time. There is no short cut method to this,” the SPP submitted.

Mattoo told the court “they should at least give a list of documents they have relied upon according to Supreme Court directions.”

The SPP submitted, “Whatever we have relied upon have already been supplied. What you’re asking now is over and above the chargesheet. An order has come from this Court, I will file a reply. But there is no shortcut in that.”

Mattoo asked the court to record the SPP’s argument and said, “In the Supreme Court they have said that we have delayed the trial.”

Prasad then addressed the application filed by Asif Iqbal Tanha, who asked for a “cloned copy of his phone”.

Prasad said that the “matter is under investigation.”

Advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, who appeared for Tanha read out the reply filed by the prosecution and said, “They have filed three chargesheets. Sixty five-odd pages that they claim they have retrieved from my phone. They haven’t provided recording of the speeches. They also rely on five WhatsApp groups that they claim from my phone… This is my phone. This isn’t a privacy issue. This is material already relied on. It’s their bounden duty to provide me this.”

Shankaran told the court that “these are data, WhatsApp chats, alleged speeches already relied on by them”.

“I need to know the entire content relied by them. It’s not the job of Prosecution to pick and choose what to rely upon,” she said.

Prasad told the court, “Midway investigation, I cannot keep distributing material against the accused. That is a material which has come subsequently to the knowledge of investigating agency.”

During the hearing, one of the accused, United Against Hate founder, Khalid Saifi, told the court he would file a case against Delhi Police for wasting paper by filing the chargesheet in the case.

“I read in the papers something on starting a speech with Assalamu-alaikum was illegal. I should stop if it is illegal,” Saifi told the court.

“It is not the word of the Court. It is a submission made by the prosecution,” the court said.

In lighter vein, Saifi told the court, “I always greet my friends with salaam. I think I will have to stop it in case it’s illegal. I will file a case in the NGT when I will be out on bail because the Delhi Police has wasted 2 million of precious papers on this chargesheet.”

The court will hear the matter next on September 30.

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