Delhi police flag march in Chand Bagh-Karawal Nagar (north east Delhi) after the days of violence, in New Delhi on February 26, 2020. File | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena
The prosecution concluded its arguments on September 22 against the applications filed by some of the people accused of hatching the conspiracy. behind the 2020 northeast Delhi riotsseeking to know the status of the probe in the case, saying those were not maintainable.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat posted the matter on October 3 for rebuttal by the counsel for the accused applicants.
During the proceedings, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad cited a judgment and said, “A different and not less well-recognized rule, namely, where a power is given to do a certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in that way or not at all. Other methods of performance are necessarily forbidden.” He said this doctrine of law is settled and has been followed by the Supreme Court and all other courts consistently.
“So when the right is not given to the accused in the garb of this application, they cannot design a new procedure. Therefore, the maintainability of the application goes through the roof,” Prasad said.
“Unless and until they (counsel for the accused) are able to demonstrate that the application itself is maintainable, they cannot go beyond that. So I would not go beyond arguing for maintainability,” he added.
Regarding whether the case is fit for further trial, Special Public Prosecutor Prasad said the prosecution would demonstrate the same before the court once the arguments on charges start.
The judge asked, “If the court was to put a question about whether the case is fit for arguments on the point of charge, you are going to answer while you address the arguments on charge?” Replying in the affirmative, Special Public Prosecutor Prasad said he would “demonstrate from the chargesheet the way things have opened up and why multiple chargesheets have come and how these chargesheets are not overlapping (each other)”.
“It is not that I have kept something in my back pocket. All these things I have to demonstrate to the court and I will demonstrate when I argue on charge. Today, to block the arguments on charge by way of these applications is not permissible. ” he said.
The counsel for one of the accused, however, said the prosecution needs to explain certain aspects before he could proceed with the rebuttal.
“How can the prosecution not answer a direction of this court (passed) in May? How can it not answer a pointed question of the court — ‘Is the conspiracy even over?’…. How can the prosecution not answer the aspect of what is to happen in the trial if a supplementary chargesheet is filed? If it (supplemental chargesheet) will come (filed), what will they do about it?” he asked.
Meanwhile, the judge said the court will put its queries to the prosecution and accused in the end to prevent the proceedings from becoming a question-and-answer session.
At the last hearing on Tuesday, the prosecution described the applications as “frivolous, speculative and presumptive”.
On September 14, applications were filed by accused Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha, seeking a direction to the investigating agency to clarify the status of its probe in the case lodged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), an anti-terror law, before arguments start on whether to frame charges.
Four days later, two other accused — Meeran Haider and Athar Khan — filed separate applications.
Haider wanted to know from the Delhi Police whether the investigation in the matter was concluded, while Khan sought an adjournment of the arguments on charges till the completion of the probe.
The accused have been booked under the stringent UAPA and several provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly being the “masterminds” of the February 2020 riots, which left 53 people dead and more than 700 injured.
The violence had erupted during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in a week when former US president Donald Trump was on a visit to India.