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Jahangirpuri riots: Delhi High Court refuses anticipatory bail to accused over non-cooperation in probe

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The Delhi High Court, while rejecting the anticipatory bail petition of an accused related to the Jahangirpuri riots, has observed that the accused allegedly tried to “disturb the communal harmony” of the area by attempting to create a “rift” between two communities.

The order was passed by a Single-Judge Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma on the anticipatory bail application filed by Sheikh Ishrafil, allegedly one of the main conspirators and perpetrators of the violence that erupted in Jahangirpuri area of the national capital on April 16, 2022.

Justice Sharma observed that Ishrafil had not joined investigation and was purposefully evading arrest. the High Court further took note of the fact that suspicious material was found on the terrace of the accused during the riots and that he has been non-cooperative during investigation.

The Bench said that maintaining peace and harmony in the communities, as well as the country, was not the sole responsibility of the law-enforcing agencies and the Courts, but it was the duty of every citizen of this country to ensure that their acts “do not instigate and promote communal hatred or ill-will”.

The bench further took note of the accused being named by one of the eye witnesses as one of the perpetrators of Jahangirpuri violence. It said the accused has been absconding and did not cooperate in the investigation. Rather, proceedings under Sections 82 and 83 of CrPC have been initiated against him.

While stating that the court cannot allow investigations to be thwarted by such applicants, the bench observed that custodial interrogation of the accused was warranted in the present case.

Justice Sharma said since the accused was not cooperating with the investigation agencies to ascertain whether he partook in the alleged activities, he was not entitled to anticipatory bail or to the claim of infringement of his fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

AN FIR was registered against the accused under Sections 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 332, 307, 323, 427, 436, 109, 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

In June, 2022, the High Court had dismissed another plea by Ishrafil, in which he had sought directions to the city police not to harass him and his family members in the name of interrogation.

Justice Sharma rejected his petition, ruling that the plea appeared to be of a ‘phishing’ kind, seeking anticipatory bail in the garb of directions to the police not to harass him and his family.

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