Pulling up the police for wrongly clubbing over 20 complaints together, a Delhi court Tuesday acquitted a person accused of rioting, arson and unlawful assembly in relation to the 2020 Northeast Delhi riots.
The court noted that out of the 20 complaints, just two were from the street where the alleged incident took place and that eight complaints were untraced as the complainants were not at home during the incident.
“I fail to understand as to how the police could file a chargesheet and untraced report together in this case. This was a wrong practice, because the complaints, other than the one made by Shokeen (the complainant in the case), were clubbed for investigation… without having sound basis to do the same,” said Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala.
The ASJ further observed that clubbing the complaints together would cause injustice to the complainants.
The FIR in this case was filed in February 2020 on the basis of a complaint by Shokeen, who alleged that a large mob had set his house and shop in Karawal Nagar on fire. He also alleged that a few days before the incident, some boys had threatened him.
In April 2020, the accused, Sandeep Kumar, was arrested and identified by Shokeen as a member of the mob that attacked his house. Later, charges were framed against Kumar and he pleaded innocent.
Advocate VS Dhangar, representing the accused, said he was being falsely implicated in the present case just to show that the case was solved. The Special Public Prosecutor, on the other hand, relied on the statement of Head Constable Ashok who identified the accused based on a photograph.
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The court observed that out of the 11 witnesses examined by the prosecution, Ashok was the only one who claimed he saw the accused in the mob during the incident. Ashok’s statements were, however, deemed unreliable by the court which noted a long gap between the incident and the identification of the accused.
ASJ Pramachala further observed it was “interesting” that Ashok wasn’t examined about the description of the property being vandalised in his presence.
The court’s final observation was that while the prosecution was able to prove the incident of riot, it failed to prove the presence of the accused in the riot beyond reasonable doubt.