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Acquitting Tablighis, court questioned police evidence

It was also brought to the attention of the prosecution that none of the 36 had Covid symptoms at the time of their removal from the Markaz. To this, the prosecution said the list was "incomplete/defective".

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi | December 17, 2020 2:12:22 am
Tablighi Jamaat, foreign nationals acquitted in mumbai, Covid lockdown violation mumbai, mumbai tablighi jamaat, mumbai city newsThe observations were made by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg while discussing evidence produced by Delhi Police during trial.

Acquitting 36 Tablighi Jamaat members for allegedly flouting Covid guidelines in March, a Delhi court Tuesday ruled that “the prosecution has even failed to prove the disobedience of any of the directions” issued by police.

The observations were made by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg while discussing evidence produced by Delhi Police during trial. This included a register containing list of foreigners who attended the event at Nizamuddin Markaz, which the court said does not have “proof of correctness of contents”; a list of evacuees, which was “not produced along with the chargesheets”; and a section 144 order by the police, for which the court said there was “not even an iota of evidence” that it was brought to the notice of the accused. The 36 were the last of the Tablighis from abroad who were put on trial in the case.

To prove the presence of the accused at the Markaz, the prosecution relied on the register of foreigners. The court however said, “Neither the author nor the person in whose presence the entries were made in the register of the names, state and passport numbers of the foreign nationals have been examined by the prosecution in its evidence to prove the correctness of the entries…”

The court also observed that the column headings in the register “are not self-explanatory”.

It was also brought to the attention of the prosecution that none of the 36 had Covid symptoms at the time of their removal from the Markaz. To this, the prosecution said the list was “incomplete/defective”.

The court noted: “Thus, by the own admission of Additional Public Prosecutor… the lists sought to be relied upon as a proof… can’t be considered to be recording the correct facts at least qua symptoms… In my considered opinion, it will not be safe for the court to treat the said lists as evidence of presence of accused at Markaz during the relevant period.”

The Delhi Police PRO deposed that prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC were uploaded on the Delhi Police website. The prosecution case was that this order was brought to the notice of the accused, who disobeyed the order. The court said, “In my considered opinion, mere uploading of order on Delhi Police Website shall not have the effect of promulgation…”

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