A Delhi court has granted bail or interim bail to 20 accused in Northeast Delhi riots cases in the last five days (May 19-23). In four of these cases, the judge noted in the order that the investigating officer was unable to show active involvement of the bail applicant in the incident.
In cases related to accused Gopal, Pawan and Deepak Negi, Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Sunil Chaudhary recorded in his order, “The IO has opposed the bail application. Upon query, the IO has replied that he is not able to collect any electronic evidence to show the active involvement of the applicant in the incident. He also stated that he is unable to find any public eyewitness who have seen the applicant while committing the incident.”
In the case of Ajay Goswami, the ASJ said in the order, “The IO has opposed the bail application submitting that the applicant was involved in number of matters of riots in the area. However, upon query, the IO has replied that he is not able to collect any electronic evidence to show the active involvement of the applicant in the incident. He also stated that he is unable to find any public eyewitness who have seen the applicant while committing the incident.”
Many of the accused, while seeking bail, submitted that their names were not in the FIR and that they had been falsely implicated. Some had also raised issues such as poor health of family members. In some cases, the court noted that there was no “likelihood of early trial in the matter” while granting bail.
Riots broke out in Northeast Delhi in the last week of February, resulting in the death of 53 people and injuries to hundreds. As per court records, about 750 cases were registered. Delhi Police have said that around 1,300 people have been arrested in connection with the riots so far.
The court has directed those granted bail to download the Aarogya Setu app and furnish their numbers to the IO upon release.
An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that 20 people had been granted bail, with the court noting that police were unable to show their active involvement.
The specific observation was made in four of those 20 bail orders. The report has been updated to reflect that change.
The Delhi Police, in a rejoinder sent through its PRO Mandeep S Randhawa, pointed out that “in only few cases the Courts have observed that the investigating officer has not been able to collect electronic evidences against the accused persons and that there are no public witnesses”. “It must be at the outset emphasized that electronic evidences may not be available in all cases but that does not mean that the oral and other circumstantial evidences are absent in the investigation. Moreover, when the case is at the stage of investigation, no comments can be inferred on the merits of the case and it is only at the stage of trial that the evidence can be appreciated wholly,” Randhawa wrote.
He also pointed out there are several other “primary reasons” for courts granting bail: To “decongest the Jail Complexes in view of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and further the guidelines issued by the High Powered Committee chaired by the Hon’ble Justice of the Delhi High Court to release the accused on interim bail where they are not involved in heinous cases”; on “humanitarian grounds where the accused has prayed that he is the sole bread earner for his family”; and in light of the fact that it is an “extraordinary situation (and) there is no likelihood of early trial”.
The error is regretted.
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