2020 riots ‘larger conspiracy’ case: 4 years down, Delhi Police probe still pending, Kalita, Narwal tell court

New Delhi, Jan 31 – A Delhi court heard arguments from counsel for 2020 Delhi riots “larger conspiracy” case accused Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, who said that despite four years passing since the FIR’s registration, the investigation by Delhi Police is still pending in the case.

Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Bajpai was hearing an application seeking clarity on the Delhi Police’s investigation in the “larger conspiracy: case before proceeding with arguments on the charges.

As the defence submitted that the daily diary should be examined to assess the police’s actions over the four-year period, the court adjourned the matter until February 12 for further hearing after considering part of the arguments.

Advocate Adit S. Pujari, representing Narwal and Kalita, contended that the investigation cannot be pending until charges are framed against the accused. He said that the two were peacefully protesting, not involved in any road blockades, and traffic was moving during the Jafrabad protest.

He referred to police WhatsApp chats related to women travelling from Jahangir Puri to Shaheen Bagh, North East Delhi, and finally to Jahangir Puri, adding that the police investigation has been pending for four years, causing people to languish in jail.

The defence argued that in other riot cases, Delhi Police stated they would start arguments on charges after completing the investigation. However, in this case, they are claiming they can proceed with charge arguments even without completing the investigation, he added.

Pujari questioned why CCTV evidence was not produced and urged the court to exercise its jurisdiction to monitor the investigation.

Some of the accused, including Kalita, Narwal, and Asif Iqbal Tanha, have sought clarification from the Delhi Police regarding the status of their investigation. They have filed applications seeking a direction from the court to direct the police to clarify when the investigation will be completed before arguments begin on whether to frame charges.

Tanha specifically requested a timeline for when the investigation is likely to be completed. Other co-accused, including Safoora Zargar, Sharjeel Imam, and Meeran Haider, are also considering similar requests.

Pujari had earlier taken objection to proceeding on charges, saying that the prosecution is beating around the bush and is still not saying that the investigation is complete in the case.

Chipping in before Special Judge Amitabh Rawat, advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, representing Tanha, had said that before proceeding with the trial, the prosecution must assure that their investigation is complete and no further supplementary charge sheet will be filed in the case.

However, the contentions were opposed by Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, who claimed that this is just a tactic being played by the accused, who are on bail, to benefit the accused who are in custody as they claim delay in trial before higher courts.

He further said that it should be taken on record because tomorrow it should not reflect that they didn’t start the arguments, and contended that they could have opposed the day-to-day hearing before hand and could have filed a proper application.

The proceedings in the case commenced in September 2020 with the filing of the first charge sheet, and over the span of more than two years, the Delhi Police has filed a total of four charge sheets in the case. The chargesheets were submitted on September 16, 2020, followed by supplementary charge sheets on November 22, 2020, February 24, 2021, and March 02, 2022.

On April 5, compliance proceedings under section 207 of CrPC were concluded for 17 accused individuals, excluding Kalita.

The accused persons in this case include Tahir Hussain, Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi, Ishrat Jahan, Haider, Gulfisha Fatima, Shifa-ur-Rehman, Tanha, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Saleem Malik, Mohd. Saleem Khan, Athar Khan, Zargar, Imam, Faizan Khan, and Narwal.

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