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‘Case against Khalid Saifi is not malicious’: Delhi Police to high court

Special public prosecutor Amit Prasad, appearing for the Delhi Police said: “Police may have invoked UAPA. But invocation of UAPA has been tested on multiple occasions by Courts."

Delhi High Court. (File)
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The Special Cell of the Delhi Police told the Delhi High Court Thursday that its case against United Against Hate member Khalid Saifi under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is not ‘malicious’ and the invocation of the UAPA against the accused has been tested by courts on various occasions.

Special public prosecutor Amit Prasad, appearing for the Delhi Police before the special bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar, said: “Police may have invoked UAPA. But invocation of UAPA has been tested on multiple occasions by Courts. Ishrat Jehan has challenged the extension of detention under the UAPA, which was dismissed. The special judge in Safoora Zargar’s bail application said that UAPA is rightly invoked. This was challenged before the HC; she was granted bail on humanitarian grounds. However, the observations on invocation of UAPA were not set aside.”

Prasad argued that to say the ordinary law was capable of handling the case and the “police invoked UAPA maliciously” is not the right argument. With respect to Saifi’s argument that findings have not been given on certain crucial allegations, Prasad said that “every minute detail” has been captured by the trial court in its order rejecting bail for Saifi. “Therefore, where is the infirmity?” Prasad said.

At the outset, Prasad argued that reliance by Saifi on a November 3 order of the trial court discharging Saifi and Umar Khalid in a riots case (FIR 101/2020) related to an incident of arson at a parking lot, does not help as the discharge was made not because there was no evidence but on account of them facing similar allegations of criminal conspiracy in the present case which deals with the conspiracy to commit riots.

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The trial court’s discharge order was passed in a case registered on the basis of a complaint by constable Sangram Singh, who was on duty when riots broke out near former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain’s home on February 24, 2020. He took shelter near a parking lot when members of the mob allegedly broke open the shutters of the parking lot and set fire to the parked vehicles.

Saifi and several others have been booked under the UAPA and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots, which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured, which erupted during the anti-CAA and NRC protests in the city.

Pointing out commonalities between Umar Khalid, who was denied bail by the high court in October, and Saifi, Prasad argued that they were both members of the Delhi Protest Support Group (DPSG) WhatsApp group, among others.

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On Ishrat Jehan’s case, wherein she was granted bail, Prasad said that Saifi can’t claim parity with her case as she was not in any WhatsApp group.

On the “narrative which was created to allege that Saifi was a victim of police atrocities”, Prasad submitted that there was a complaint filed before the NHRC which was eventually closed on October 15, 2021. “If they still have a grievance, they have all other remedies. Can they agitate this in a bail proceeding? (Rejection of) Bail has to be tested by HC on whether the trial court passed the order keeping in mind material on record and in accordance with law.”

On the DPSG WhatsApp group, Prasad submitted that this was an “umbrella group” for all groups and it not only had the support but control over other groups. “The DPSG was a guiding force; Khalid Saifi was a part of the group”, he argued. Prasad said that there were clear messages in the DPSG group – first protest, then chakka jam, then violence. “It was all stated in the DPSG and it is not a figment of our imagination,” Prasad concluded. The matter is now listed on December 12 for rebuttal arguments by senior advocate Rebecca John who represents Saifi.

First published on: 08-12-2022 at 18:18 IST
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