Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Trial Court Judge recuses himself from hearing case related to Jamia violence of 2019

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The Trial Court Judge, who granted discharge to JNU student Sharjeel Imam, former Jamia student Safoora Zargar, activist Asif Iqbal Tanha and others last week in a case related to Jamia violence of 2019, has recused himself from hearing a similar case citing ‘personal reasons’.

Additional Sessions Judge Arul Varma of Saket Court had granted discharge to 11 people on February 4 in a case related to the violence that took place in 2019 near Jamia Millia Islamia University. 

However, the Judge recused himself from hearing a similar case on Friday due to personal reasons, requesting that the matter be transferred to another judge.

The case would now be listed before the Principal District and Sessions Judge on February 13 for deciding the transfer.

The ASJ was hearing a case related to an FIR registered in 2019 at Jamia Nagar police station. Asif Iqbal Tanha, who was earlier discharged in the case, was also an accused in the FIR in question.

The case would now be listed before the Principal District and Sessions Judge on February 13 for deciding the transfer.

On February 4, ASJ Varma had discharged the accused on the grounds that police had ‘arbitrarily’ chosen to array some people from the protesting crowd as accused and others as police witnesses.
Coming down heavily on Delhi Police, the court said that this ‘cherry picking’ would prove detrimental to the precept of fairness. However, the ASJ framed charges against one of the accused, Mohd. Ilyas.

Delhi Police had booked the accused under Sections 143, 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 332, 333, 308, 427, 435, 323, 341, 120B and 34 of IPC.

Police had filed charges against Mohd Ilyas in its charge sheet on April 21, 2020. Another supplementary charge sheet was filed against 11 other accused, who have been discharged in the matter. A third supplementary charge sheet was also filed on February 1, during the continuation of arguments on charge.

The prosecution had tried to establish that the witnesses had identified the accused on the basis of some photographs.

The ASJ, however, noted that Delhi Police has failed to adduce fresh evidence and so has presented old facts in the garb of further investigation in the form of filing another supplementary charge sheet. The Saket Court further noted that there were no eyewitnesses to verify the police’s version regarding the involvement of the accused in the violence.

It also took in view the fact that no test identification parade was carried out during the investigation till filing of the third supplementary charge sheet. 
Besides, the ASJ noted that the third supplementary charge sheet had shown some photographs and videos of the accused behind the barricades. However, it merely showed their presence, which the accused have also accepted, but did not prove anything beyond that.

The court said the liberty of citizens who were protesting should be seen as an extension of the invaluable fundamental right to the freedom of speech and expression contained in Article 19, albeit with genuine restrictions and exceptions.

The investigative agencies need to put technology to use or should manually (with human intelligence) gather credible information, noted the ASJ.

Police should have abstained from filing such ill-conceived charge sheets against persons, whose role was confined only to being a part of a protest, it added.
Delhi Police had then filed a revision petition against the Trial Court verdict.

The matter was mentioned by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta yesterday seeking an urgent listing, which was allowed for Monday. The matter would now be heard by Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma.

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