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Essence of Khalid, Sharjeel’s speeches was to create sense of fear among Muslims: Prosecution opposed Umar Khalid's bail

Prosecution claims Khalid wanted to get international media attention

Sabrangindia 03 Aug 2022

Umar Khalid

On August 1, the Delhi High Court heard the submission made by the Prosecution opposing the bail plea filed by Student Activist Umar Khalid in Delhi riots larger conspiracy case.

At the outset the Prosecution submitted before a special bench comprising Justices Sidharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar, that the speeches made by various accused persons in the First Information Report (FIR) had a ‘common factor’, essence of which was to create a sense of fear in the Muslim population of the country.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad appearing for Delhi Police argued that the speeches made by Dr. Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and Khalid Saifi were all connected with each other at the relevant time as a part of conspiracy to commit 2020 riots, reported LiveLaw.

He reportedly argued, All speeches have one common factor which is in the entire speech, the essence is to create a sense of fear in Muslim population. I'll read speech of Sharjeel Imam, Khalid Saifi and Umar Khalid. When you talk about Babri Masjid or Triple Talaq, they relate to a religion. But when you talk about Kashmir, it's not an issue of religion, it's an issue of national integration.”

Referring to Khalid’s speech at Amravati in February 2020, he reportedly argued, “When my learned friend (Adv. Pais) said that there was nothing wrong in the speech (Umar Khalid's), even I say there is nothing wrong. It's a very calculated speech. It brings various points. One, Babri Masjid, two, Triple Talaq, three, Kashmir, four, Muslims are suppressed and five, CAA-NRC. Point that comes out is that your grievance is not against CAA NRC, it is against Babri Masjid and Kashmir. This is a pattern.”

Prasad further argued that there was spread of misinformation, blockade of roads at protest sites, attack on police personnel and paramilitary violence, damage to public properties and use of petrol bombs and other elements.

It was the prosecution’s case that the protest sites were created through Whatsapp groups with the help of mobilisation of various individuals. He reportedly argued, “There is contention raised that protest sites came on their own. It was not so. They were created, not organic in nature, created with mobilizing peop le from various places. Each protest site is being managed and handled by people from Jamia and DPSG.”

However, Justice Mridul pointed out that there was an overlap in the arguments made by the prosecution qua the allegations made against various accused persons in the chargesheet. He reportedly said, “The tones attributed to various appellants in chargesheet, there is definitely an overlap. In fact, we seem to be hearing Prosecution in relation to all of them. It's not as if there has been...of course there is individual accused of various offences but there is definitely an overlap. Of course, Prosecution will have to make good by ascribing individual roles to all accused, we're not on merits. We are saying that there is definitely an overlap in appeals before us.”

The Court left it upon the parties to decide if the appeals of the other co-accused persons are to be heard together or individually, reported LiveLaw. The matter was listed for August 2 for further hearing.

On July 28, 2022, Senior Advocate Trideep Pais appearing for Dr. Umar Khalid concluded his submissions with respect to the bail plea filed by him. He submitted that mere membership of Whatsapp groups, as alleged by the prosecution, cannot make Khalid criminally liable when nothing objectionable was attributed to him, reported LiveLaw. 

To support his argument, Pais relied on the Madras High Court judgement in the case of R Rajendran v. Inspector of Police, where the Court held that a group administrator has limited power of removing a member of the group or adding other members of the groups and that once the group is created, the functioning of the administrator and that of the members is at par with each other, except the power of adding or deleting members to the group, reported LiveLaw.

Pais denied any violence being attributed to any speech made by Khalid. He submitted that there wasn’t any recovery of any connection of his speech with violence and referred to the witness statements recorded by the prosecution, which according to him was hearsay and most importantly, recorded much after the events in proximity to his arrest. 

Before the Court vacation, the same Delhi High Court bench had heard the submissions by Dr. Umar Khalid over the span of four to five days which was then concluded on last Thursday.

Previously, speaking about Khalid’s speech, Justice Mridul had orally remarked, “The speech is in bad taste, does not make it a terrorist act. We understand that extremely well. If the case of the prosecution is premised on how offensive the speech was, that by itself won't constitute an offence. We will give them (prosecution) the opportunity…… Offensive and distasteful it was. It may tantamount to defamation, other offences, but it does not tantamount to a terrorist activity."

Before that, the Court had stated that the speech read out by Khalid's counsel was obnoxious, inciteful and not acceptable.

Background

Dr. Khalid was arrested by the Delhi Police in September 2020, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), on the charge of larger conspiracy to allegedly unleash violence to defame the Indian government during a visit by former US President Donald Trump. While Dr. Khalid was granted bail in the matter concerning Penal Code and Arms Act charges, he continues to remain in custody in connection with the Delhi Riots larger ‘conspiracy case’ concerning UAPA charges under FIR No. 59 of 2020.

While granting bail concerning the IPC & Arms Act charges, the Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav recognised that probability of a lengthy trial in the said matter. The court observed, “The applicant cannot be made to incarcerate in jail for infinity merely on account of the fact that other persons who were part of the riotous mob have to be identified and arrested in the matter.” It came down heavily on the State for providing inadequate evidence in this case, that is based on the statement provided by a prosecution witness. The court found the statement provided by the witness to be insignificant material and couldn’t comprehend how a lofty claim of conspiracy could be inferred based on it.

Importantly, the court noted that the material against Khalid was “sketchy” and that he cannot be incarcerated indefinitely on the basis of such evidence. “The applicant cannot be permitted to remain behind bars in this case on the basis of such sketchy material against him,” read the order. The judge also held that neither was Dr. Khalid present at the crime scene on the day when communal clashes broke out last year, nor was he captured in any CCTV footage/viral video. Further, the court also said that “...neither any independent witness nor any police witness has identified the applicant to be present at the scene of crime. Prima facie, the applicant appears to have been roped in the matter merely on the basis of his own disclosure statement and disclosure statement of co-accused Tahir Hussain.”

Under UAPA, Dr. Khalid has been charged under sections 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (Punishment for terrorist act), 17 (Punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and 18 (Punishment for conspiracy). Under UAPA, an accused person shall not be released on bail if the Court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against such person is prima facie true. The Delhi court made out a prima facie case merely on the basis of implausible, contradictory and vague statements made by the witnesses and gave no regards whatsoever to the fact that:

(a)   Dr. Khalid had not given any public calls to incite violence;

(b)  There is no evidence on record that proves Dr. Khalid’s participation in funding or transporting arms nor were they recovered from him,

(c)   Dr. Khalid was not even present in Delhi when the riots took place.

Related:

Membership of Whatsapp groups can’t make one criminally liable, argues Dr. Umar Khalid
Speech in bad taste, not a terrorist act: Delhi HC On Umar Khalid’s Amravati Speech
“You're asking us to conduct a re-trial. We can't test the veracity of the statement at the stage of bail”: Delhi HC on Umar Khalid’s bail plea
Protests were against unjust law, protesting is not a terrorist activity: Umar Khalid
Not a crime to criticize PM, words like ‘inqulab’, krantikari’ not an incitement to violence: Umar Khalid
Delhi HC adjourns hearings in bail pleas of Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam
Umar Khalid’s speech prima facie not acceptable, obnoxious: Delhi HC
Dr. Umar Khalid: A human rights defender, failed by the judiciary
Sketchy material against Umar Khalid, Delhi court grants bail
Protest was secular, chargesheet is communal: Dr. Umar Khalid’s counsel
Umar Khalid bail hearing: Counsel points out “cooked up” witnesses
Chargesheet against me looks like a film script: Umar Khalid to court
Indian judiciary on granting bail: Different strokes for different folks?

Essence of Khalid, Sharjeel’s speeches was to create sense of fear among Muslims: Prosecution opposed Umar Khalid's bail

Prosecution claims Khalid wanted to get international media attention

Umar Khalid

On August 1, the Delhi High Court heard the submission made by the Prosecution opposing the bail plea filed by Student Activist Umar Khalid in Delhi riots larger conspiracy case.

At the outset the Prosecution submitted before a special bench comprising Justices Sidharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar, that the speeches made by various accused persons in the First Information Report (FIR) had a ‘common factor’, essence of which was to create a sense of fear in the Muslim population of the country.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad appearing for Delhi Police argued that the speeches made by Dr. Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and Khalid Saifi were all connected with each other at the relevant time as a part of conspiracy to commit 2020 riots, reported LiveLaw.

He reportedly argued, All speeches have one common factor which is in the entire speech, the essence is to create a sense of fear in Muslim population. I'll read speech of Sharjeel Imam, Khalid Saifi and Umar Khalid. When you talk about Babri Masjid or Triple Talaq, they relate to a religion. But when you talk about Kashmir, it's not an issue of religion, it's an issue of national integration.”

Referring to Khalid’s speech at Amravati in February 2020, he reportedly argued, “When my learned friend (Adv. Pais) said that there was nothing wrong in the speech (Umar Khalid's), even I say there is nothing wrong. It's a very calculated speech. It brings various points. One, Babri Masjid, two, Triple Talaq, three, Kashmir, four, Muslims are suppressed and five, CAA-NRC. Point that comes out is that your grievance is not against CAA NRC, it is against Babri Masjid and Kashmir. This is a pattern.”

Prasad further argued that there was spread of misinformation, blockade of roads at protest sites, attack on police personnel and paramilitary violence, damage to public properties and use of petrol bombs and other elements.

It was the prosecution’s case that the protest sites were created through Whatsapp groups with the help of mobilisation of various individuals. He reportedly argued, “There is contention raised that protest sites came on their own. It was not so. They were created, not organic in nature, created with mobilizing peop le from various places. Each protest site is being managed and handled by people from Jamia and DPSG.”

However, Justice Mridul pointed out that there was an overlap in the arguments made by the prosecution qua the allegations made against various accused persons in the chargesheet. He reportedly said, “The tones attributed to various appellants in chargesheet, there is definitely an overlap. In fact, we seem to be hearing Prosecution in relation to all of them. It's not as if there has been...of course there is individual accused of various offences but there is definitely an overlap. Of course, Prosecution will have to make good by ascribing individual roles to all accused, we're not on merits. We are saying that there is definitely an overlap in appeals before us.”

The Court left it upon the parties to decide if the appeals of the other co-accused persons are to be heard together or individually, reported LiveLaw. The matter was listed for August 2 for further hearing.

On July 28, 2022, Senior Advocate Trideep Pais appearing for Dr. Umar Khalid concluded his submissions with respect to the bail plea filed by him. He submitted that mere membership of Whatsapp groups, as alleged by the prosecution, cannot make Khalid criminally liable when nothing objectionable was attributed to him, reported LiveLaw. 

To support his argument, Pais relied on the Madras High Court judgement in the case of R Rajendran v. Inspector of Police, where the Court held that a group administrator has limited power of removing a member of the group or adding other members of the groups and that once the group is created, the functioning of the administrator and that of the members is at par with each other, except the power of adding or deleting members to the group, reported LiveLaw.

Pais denied any violence being attributed to any speech made by Khalid. He submitted that there wasn’t any recovery of any connection of his speech with violence and referred to the witness statements recorded by the prosecution, which according to him was hearsay and most importantly, recorded much after the events in proximity to his arrest. 

Before the Court vacation, the same Delhi High Court bench had heard the submissions by Dr. Umar Khalid over the span of four to five days which was then concluded on last Thursday.

Previously, speaking about Khalid’s speech, Justice Mridul had orally remarked, “The speech is in bad taste, does not make it a terrorist act. We understand that extremely well. If the case of the prosecution is premised on how offensive the speech was, that by itself won't constitute an offence. We will give them (prosecution) the opportunity…… Offensive and distasteful it was. It may tantamount to defamation, other offences, but it does not tantamount to a terrorist activity."

Before that, the Court had stated that the speech read out by Khalid's counsel was obnoxious, inciteful and not acceptable.

Background

Dr. Khalid was arrested by the Delhi Police in September 2020, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), on the charge of larger conspiracy to allegedly unleash violence to defame the Indian government during a visit by former US President Donald Trump. While Dr. Khalid was granted bail in the matter concerning Penal Code and Arms Act charges, he continues to remain in custody in connection with the Delhi Riots larger ‘conspiracy case’ concerning UAPA charges under FIR No. 59 of 2020.

While granting bail concerning the IPC & Arms Act charges, the Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav recognised that probability of a lengthy trial in the said matter. The court observed, “The applicant cannot be made to incarcerate in jail for infinity merely on account of the fact that other persons who were part of the riotous mob have to be identified and arrested in the matter.” It came down heavily on the State for providing inadequate evidence in this case, that is based on the statement provided by a prosecution witness. The court found the statement provided by the witness to be insignificant material and couldn’t comprehend how a lofty claim of conspiracy could be inferred based on it.

Importantly, the court noted that the material against Khalid was “sketchy” and that he cannot be incarcerated indefinitely on the basis of such evidence. “The applicant cannot be permitted to remain behind bars in this case on the basis of such sketchy material against him,” read the order. The judge also held that neither was Dr. Khalid present at the crime scene on the day when communal clashes broke out last year, nor was he captured in any CCTV footage/viral video. Further, the court also said that “...neither any independent witness nor any police witness has identified the applicant to be present at the scene of crime. Prima facie, the applicant appears to have been roped in the matter merely on the basis of his own disclosure statement and disclosure statement of co-accused Tahir Hussain.”

Under UAPA, Dr. Khalid has been charged under sections 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (Punishment for terrorist act), 17 (Punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and 18 (Punishment for conspiracy). Under UAPA, an accused person shall not be released on bail if the Court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against such person is prima facie true. The Delhi court made out a prima facie case merely on the basis of implausible, contradictory and vague statements made by the witnesses and gave no regards whatsoever to the fact that:

(a)   Dr. Khalid had not given any public calls to incite violence;

(b)  There is no evidence on record that proves Dr. Khalid’s participation in funding or transporting arms nor were they recovered from him,

(c)   Dr. Khalid was not even present in Delhi when the riots took place.

Related:

Membership of Whatsapp groups can’t make one criminally liable, argues Dr. Umar Khalid
Speech in bad taste, not a terrorist act: Delhi HC On Umar Khalid’s Amravati Speech
“You're asking us to conduct a re-trial. We can't test the veracity of the statement at the stage of bail”: Delhi HC on Umar Khalid’s bail plea
Protests were against unjust law, protesting is not a terrorist activity: Umar Khalid
Not a crime to criticize PM, words like ‘inqulab’, krantikari’ not an incitement to violence: Umar Khalid
Delhi HC adjourns hearings in bail pleas of Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam
Umar Khalid’s speech prima facie not acceptable, obnoxious: Delhi HC
Dr. Umar Khalid: A human rights defender, failed by the judiciary
Sketchy material against Umar Khalid, Delhi court grants bail
Protest was secular, chargesheet is communal: Dr. Umar Khalid’s counsel
Umar Khalid bail hearing: Counsel points out “cooked up” witnesses
Chargesheet against me looks like a film script: Umar Khalid to court
Indian judiciary on granting bail: Different strokes for different folks?

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