Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav has granted bail to Human Rights Defender, Dr. Umar Khalid in the Delhi violence case. He has been directed to furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs.20,000 with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the court. He has also been directed to install the Aarogya Setu App and to not tamper with evidence or influence any witness pertaining to the case.
The judge noted that since Umar’s co accused Khalid Saifi was granted bail in the matter, “the applicant (Umar) deserves bail in the matter on the ground of parity with co-accused Khalid Saifi.”
Further the judge said that Khalid Saifi was granted bail in November last year and that, “the learned Special PP has been unable to establish that the role assigned to applicant (Umar) is not similar to the role attributed to co-accused Khalid Saifi.”
ASJ Yadav said that the chargesheet in the said violence case has been filed and the trial is likely to take a “long time”. Since Dr. Khalid has been in judicial custody pertaining to Indian Penal Code and Arms Act charges since October last year, the court observed that, “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.”
The court has come down heavily on the State for providing inadequate evidence in this case, that is based on the statement provided by one Rahul Kasana, a prosecution witness. The court said that the sole evidence in this case is that the witness has stated that he was standing outside a building in the area of Shaheen Bagh last year, where he happened to drop principal accused Tahir Hussain. He thereafter saw Umar Khalid and Khalid Saifi entering the same building.
On this disclosure, the court said, “I fail to understand from the aforesaid statement how a lofty claim of conspiracy can be inferred. In my humble opinion, chargesheeting the applicant in this case on the basis of such an insignificant material is unwarranted.”
Importantly, the court noted that the material against Khalid was “sketchy” and that he cannot be incarcerated indefinitely on the basis of such evidence. “I have also considered the judgments relied upon by the learned Special PP. The said judgments to the extent they lay down prepositions of law are fairly clear, however, the same do not advance the claim of State any further because of insufficiency of material on record against the applicant. 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 Umar was present at the crime scene on the day when communal clashes broke out last year, nor he has been captured in any CCTV footage/viral video. Further, the court also said, “..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.”
The court observed that besides this present FIR No. 101 of 2020 related to Indian Penal Code sections of rioting and conspiracy, Umar has been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in FIR No.59 of 2020, that is being separately investigated by the Special Cell.
The court further noted that the disclosure statement of co-accused Tahir Hussain, recorded on March 11, 2020 does not lead to “any recovery of fact”. Tahir Hussain is an accused in ten other cases, but in no other case the applicant Umar Khalid has been charged.
Reacting to this, the court said, “I do not find any rationale in the act of police in involving the applicant in this solitary case for the offence of conspiracy. If principal accused Tahir Hussain was moved or actuated by the applicant in a meeting dated 08.01.2020, then the applicant should have been made co-accused in ten other cases also which is not the case. The police have unnecessarily brought in the material of FIR No.59/2020 (investigated by Special Cell) in this matter.”
Although this comes as a huge relief to the former JNU student, Umar Khalid will continue to remain in custody in connection with the Delhi Riots larger ‘conspiracy case’ concerning UAPA charges under FIR No. 59 of 2020.
The bail order may be read here: