Umar Khalid bail plea: Prosecution concludes arguments before Delhi HC

Excerpts of Amravati speech read in court; rebuttals to be heard on September 9

Umar Khalid

On September 7, the prosecution concluded its arguments before the Delhi High Court, opposing the bail plea filed by the former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Dr. Umar Khalid.

Dr. Umar Khalid had moved the Delhi High Court, on April 21, 2022, challenging the lower court order denying bail to him in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case related to the February 2020 Northeast Delhi violence larger conspiracy case.

The bail plea was heard by a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar. The matter has now been listed for September 9 for hearing rebuttal submissions of Khalid’s counsel, Senior Advocate Trideep Pais.

The prosecution, which had commenced its submissions on August 1, has opposed the bail plea of Khalid saying the speech delivered by him in Amravati in February 2020 was a “very calculated speech” which brought various points including Babri Masjid, triple talaq, Kashmir, suppression of Muslims and Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). Arguing in support of the trial court’s order of denying Khalid’s bail petition, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad said that the trial court has appropriately dealt with all the recorded evidence filed in this case.

On Wednesday, SPP Prasad referred to several statements given by the witnesses and also read out a portion of Khalid’s Amravati speech.

Previously, the prosecution also made the argument that 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. Specifically referring to the speeches made by Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and Khalid Saifi, SPP Prasad argued that they were all connected each and formed a part of the larger conspiracy to commit the Delhi violence 2020. Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, and several others have been alleged to be the criminal “masterminds” of the February 2020 communal violence, and have been booked under UAPA and several provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The violence had left 53 people dead and more than 700 injured.

It was the prosecution’s case that the protests were organised using Whatsapp groups. SPP Prasad 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 people from various places. Each protest site is being managed and handled by people from Jamia and DPSG.”

Brief background of the case

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


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