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Keeping Undertrials In Prison Is Like Punishment Before Trial: Delhi HC

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The Delhi High Court has observed that prison is primarily for punishing convicts, not to detain under-trials to send out a message to the public while granting bail to an accused in the violence that took place in North East Delhi in February this year

A single-judge bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambani passed its judgment on a bail petition filed by a truck driver, Firoz Khan who was accused of being a part of a mob of around 300 people that allegedly set a confectionary shop on fire during Anti-CAA protests in North East Delhi.

The Court said in the order that “the remit of the court is to dispense justice in accordance with law, not to send messages to society.”

The Court further observed that “It is this sentiment, whereby the State demands that undertrials be kept in prison inordinately without any purpose that leads to overcrowding of jails; and leaves undertrials with the inevitable impression that they are being punished even before trial and therefore being treated unfairly by the system”.

Advocate Rebecca John, who appeared for Khan submitted that he has neither been named in the FIR nor there is any allegation in the FIR & any other material collected during investigation that would identify the Khan as one of the perpetrators of the offences alleged.

the court was compelled to sift the evidence only prima facie and limited to cursorily assessing how the police have identified the applicant from that large assembly of 300 persons,” said the Court.

The court granted bail to Firoz Khan and directed him to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of the same amount. The court has further directed him not to leave the national Capital without the court’s permission.

According, to the petition, he was detained on April 3 in connection with an FIR lodged at Dayalpur Police station in North east Delhi. He was booked for allegedly rioting and using fire or explosive material to destroy a house. According to the complainant’s statement in the FIR, some rioters set his shop on fire on February 24 and looted millions of rupees. Khan had sought bail saying that neither he was named in the FIR nor was any evidence collected during the investigation to establish him as perpetrator of the crime.

-India Legal Bureau

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