Delhi riots: court takes cognisance of sedition charge against 18 people

A Delhi court on Tuesday took cognisance of sedition charge against 18 persons, including former JNU students — Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Devangana Kalita, and Natasha Narwal — and others in connection with the north-east Delhi riots.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat gave the order after noting that the “requisite sanctions under Section 196 CrPC against all 18 accused persons has been received”.

The court took cognisance of the offences under sections 124 A (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity on the grounds of religion, language, caste etc), 109 (abetment) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

The judge also directed that a copy of the supplementary chargesheet and accompanying documents be supplied in a pendrive to all the 18 accused persons, who have also been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The accused in the case are United Against Hate member Khalid Saifi, former Congress councilor Ishrat Jahan, suspended AAP councilor Tahir Hussain, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) students — Asif Iqbal Tanha and Safoora Zargar —, are Meeran Haider, Gulfisha, Shafa Ur Rehman, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Saleem Malik, Mohd Saleem Khan, Athar Khan and Faizan Khan.

Except Ms. Zargar and Mr. Faizan Khan, who are on bail, all other accused in the case are currently lodged in jail.

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for Ms. Kalita contended that the media already has a copy of the chargesheet before even the accused person has got them.

The counsel submitted that there has been a media trial pursuant to which she has been prejudicially affected. This issue was also raised by Mr. Khalid, Mr. Imam and Mr. Khalid Saifi.

‘Investigation not fair’

The counsel further alleged that “the investigation is not fair and not all video clips have been investigated”.

On the other hand, the special public prosecutor (SPP) argued that there have been various media report “trying to create their own narrative, against the police”.

The SPP said the investigation in the case is still going on till all the perpetrators are apprehended and all evidence collected.

Media trial

“During the proceedings, an important question of media trial was raised. It is indubitably true that every accused has the fundamental right to free and fair investigation as also trial,” the court said.

“Media reporting particularly on the social media remains charged up all the time...There is a world of difference between an accused and a convict...There should, at least, always be a disclaimer when reporting, whether it is the version of the police/prosecution or the accused instead of presenting as if it is the order of the court,” the judge said.

“Labeling the police as completely unfair or the accused as a convict itself, is not a healthy sign and which impacts the process of criminal justice system,” the court added.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 1:15:39 AM |

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