This will take years: Court expresses concern over delay in trial in the Delhi violence case

The court has asked the Police to supply all documents relied upon as evidence to the accused persons, and file replies to only the ones they oppose

Delhi violence

A Delhi district court has expressed its concern over considerable delay in the trial in the North East Delhi violence of February 2020, involving serious charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and the Indian Penal Code. It has directed the Delhi Police to supply all documents relied upon as evidence  to the accused people, and file reply on only those applications against which they have a reservation.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat suggested, “Whenever an application is moved under CrPC section 207 (supply of copy of police report and other documents to the accused), it is better that the prosecution supplies all documents and files a reply for only those documents on which you have reservation for whatever reasons, then this can be argued. Let us please limit ourselves to only those documents against which you have a reservation.”

He further said, “I have received 4 to 5 applications under section 207 of CrPC…This will take years, it is very difficult for all counsels.”

Advocate Rizwan Siddique, appearing for Tahir Hussain told the court, “It will be difficult for all of us, one person will file a 207 application, then the prosecution will file a reply, then another application….this will take years.”

In the previous hearing on September 10, involving FIR 59 of 2020, SabrangIndia had reported that Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha had moved an application under section 207 of the CrPC seeking copies of electronic evidence way back in April, but the Delhi Police had not responded to it. Advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, representing Asif, also argued that the prosecution has relied on this material to frame charges against him in the chargesheet, and that it is the duty of the State to provide for the same. 

In yesterday’s hearing, advocate Adit S. Pujari, appearing for Devangana and Natasha explained, “The prosecution has relied on several phones and the data contained in several phones. If I (Devangana) am asking for Rizwan’s client’s (Tahir Hussain) phone, that should be given to me, because the allegation states that he is in conspiracy with me, so I can look at his phone and prove that I am not in conspiracy with him”.

Rizwan Siddique intervened and submitted, “That’s the point, the conspiracy allegation against me (Tahir Hussain) is that I met Umar Khalid and Khalid Saifi and conspired, so I have the right to access all documents related to Umar and Saifi.”

Judge Rawat said, “Let all documents be supplied”. Advocate Rizwan said, “This is a conspiracy trial, there should not be a reservation on a section 207 application. This is not a normal trial, we are all connected to each other. This is the only trial in the country where the prosecution has an issue on application 207.”

Special Public Prosecutor, Amit Prasad, objected to the aforesaid submission. However, in order to expedite the trial, the Court said that the Prosecution will supply documents to all accused instead of filing replies and will file reply only with regards to those documents which cannot be given to the accused with reasons to be given as to why the same cannot be done.

Concerns raised by inmates

Tasleem Ahmed’s lawyer told the court that they have moved an application for his surgery which is scheduled in Ambedkar hospital on October 7. In addition to this, Tasleem told the court that he has already moved five applications but has not received the soft or hard copy of the charge sheet in jail.

Tasleem also alleged that he has been attacked twice in jail. Judge Rawat said that he cannot direct his transfer from one jail to the other, but can take care of his security. “I will pass an order,” he said.

Lawyer-activist Ishrat Jahan requested the court to direct the jail authorities to provide her with a set of headphones for communicating with her family members and lawyers. She said that this falls under privileged (confidential) communication during her mulaqats, and she is entitled to some privacy.

Student activist Athar Khan said, “Since April, I have been requesting for some books, including the Quran. When I approached the jail authorities, they said that I can read books available in the jail library, but the law does not require me to read the Quran mandatorily. A speed post was also sent to me by my family on August 27, I have not been provided with the parcel.” The court went on to record his submissions and said that he will look into his grievances. 

Mohd. Saleem Khan told the court, “I have been in jail for the last 19 months. I am innocent. My entire family is disturbed. My children’s education has been affected. I have gone into depression. I don’t have the money to hire an expensive lawyer. My son has stopped studying, I need to get my daughter admitted to the 10th grade. Please do something, let us out. Who will we ask for help? I didn’t even know what section 302 is (murder charges). After getting arrested I found out that I have been charged with murder. I don’t feel like eating. I am alive just because my children are outside. I request you to read the letter I have written to you.”

The court accepted his request and directed the letter to be sent to him. The court has also directed the accused parties who have not filed an application under section 207 of the CrPC, to file it within 2 weeks. The court has posted the matter for hearing on October 8.


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