The Delhi high court has rejected the bail pleas of accused Sadiq and Irshad Ali, booked for murder, rioting and using criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty in February last year.
Justice Subramonium Prasad said that the material on record revealed that they were seen in multiple CCTV camera footage, carrying sticks with another co-accused, Imran Ansari. Both bail orders read, “The clinching evidence that tilts this Court to prolong the incarceration of the Petitioner (Sadiq and Irshad) is his presence in the Vishal Chaudhry video wherein he is clearly identified at the Scene of Crime, holding a danda (stick) in one hand and pelting stones with his other hand at uniformed officials who at present around him, and are heavily and hopelessly outnumbered. This Court is of the opinion that the Vishal Chaudhary video reveals that the Petitioner is not merely a curious onlooker. The fact that he actively participated and pelted stones at the Police Officials at the Scene of Crime justifies the invocation of Section 149 IPC (unlawful assembly) read with Section 302 IPC (punishment for murder) in the instant case.”
On the basis of the said video footage at the scene of crime, the high court opined that it was “quite egregious”, and was therefore sufficient to keep them in custody.
What did the video footage show?
The prosecution placed a video recorded by one Vishal Chaudhry who shot it from Gym Body Fit Garage in North East Delhi in February last year as evidence. The court noted that Sadiq, who was wearing a yellow and white T-shirt was present at the crime scene, along with co-accused Imran Ansari, and could be seen carrying a danda (stick) in one hand and pelting stones at the police officials with his other hand.
In the same video, Justice Prasad observed that Irshad, who was wearing a sky-blue Nehru jacket, grey salwar-kurta and a white skull cap, instigated the crowd to follow him. He was further seen with a danda (stick) in his hand and his face was partially covered.
Delhi Police’s claims
The prosecution had alleged that on February 23, 2020, the protesters who convened at Wazirabad Main Road, Chand Bagh, came onto the road and blocked it without authorisation. Additional Solicitor General, SV Raju had submitted that in response to the same, the local police had issued a proclamation under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (empowers the magistrate of any state or union territory to pass an order prohibiting the gathering of four or more people in a specified area) in order to maintain law and order.
He had further submitted that the protesters held a meeting on the night of February 23, 2020, at Chand Bagh to finalise a plan for February 24 as the President of the United States, Donald Trump, was coming to New Delhi. This meeting was subsequently attended by several of the accused persons.
The ASG also alleged that on February 24, 2020, CCTV cameras which had been installed for security in the area were systematically disconnected, damaged or dislocated by the protestors. He alleged that the organisers of the protest, and the crowd carrying various weapons such as dandas (sticks), lathis (batons), baseball bats, iron rods, and stones convened at the main Wazirabad Road, and refused to pay heed to the orders of the senior officers and police force.
The crowd soon got out of control and started pelting stones at the police officers and resultantly, more than fifty police personnel suffered injuries and Head Constable Ratan Lal was shot dead. The Delhi Police also alleged that the protestors, including the two accused persons, turned violent, burnt private and public vehicles, as well as other properties in the vicinity, including a petrol pump and a car showroom.
In the similar FIR, Justice Prasad granted bail to two co-accused Mohd. Ayyub and Shahnawaz on the basis of lack of electronic evidence at the scene of crime, at the time of the alleged incident. But in the matter of Sadiq and Irshad, the court held that they didn’t satisfy the ingredients of bail and that they were caught in an overt act which indicated their active participation in perpetrating the offences mentioned in FIR No. 60 of 2020.
The judgments may be read here: