Delhi riots: 6 accused of murder get bailNew Delhi January 20, 2022 01:30 IST
There can’t be an umbrella assumption of guilt on behalf of every accused when there is a crowd involved: HC
The Delhi High Court has granted bail to six persons accused in a murder committed during the 2020 north-east Delhi riots, noting that there cannot be an umbrella assumption of guilt on behalf of every accused when there is a crowd involved.
Justice Subramonium Prasad granted bail to Mohd. Shoaib, Parvez, Mohd. Tahir, Rashid, Mohd. Faisal and Shahrukh, all arrested over 21 months ago in connection with the murder of a 20-year-old youth Dilbar Negi.
According to the prosecution, the police received a call on February 26, 2020, that some rioters were throwing stones in Bhagirathi Vihar. When they reached the spot, they found that the house of the owner of a sweet shop, located in Main Brijpuri Road, had been set ablaze by the rioters. The police found a half-burnt body of Negi, a waiter at the sweet house.
The public prosecutor opposed the bail on the ground that all the accused “actively participated” in the riots in which Negi was burnt alive.
The public prosecutor submitted that it is of no consequence that no specific conduct can be attributed to the accused and that having participated in the riotous mob, the accused is responsible for not only his own actions, but also the actions of the others.
In this case, the issue which arises for consideration before the court was that when an offence of murder is committed by an unlawful assembly, then whether each person involved should be denied the benefit of bail, regardless of his role or object of the crowd.
Justice Prasad clarified, “When there is a crowd involved, at the juncture of grant or denial of bail, the court must hesitate before arriving at the conclusion that every member of the unlawful assembly inhabits a common intention to accomplish the unlawful common object.”
“There cannot be an umbrella assumption of guilt on behalf of every accused by the court, and every decision must be taken based on a careful consideration of the facts and circumstances in the matter therein,” Justice Prasad said.
The HC also took note of the fact that all the accused persons have been in jail for over 21 months now. “It is egregious and against the principles enshrined in our Constitution to allow an accused to remain languishing behind the bars during the pendency of the trial,” the court said.
“Bail is the rule and jail is the exception, and courts must exercise their jurisdiction to uphold the tenets of personal liberty, subject to rightful regulation of the same by validly enacted legislation,” it added.
The court also said that the presence of the accused “at the scene of crime is inconclusive at this juncture and can only be confirmed during the course of trial and cannot justify the prolonged incarceration of the petitioner at this point of time”.