Delhi riots: Court directs police to provide soft copy of charge sheet to all accused in UAPA case

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New Delhi, Jan 5 (PTI) A court here on Tuesday directed the police to provide soft copy of the charge sheet to all the accused, arrested in a north east Delhi riots case, in prison after they contended that it was difficult to discuss the 17,000-page document during the half-hour legal interview with their lawyers.

The court’s directions came after the Delhi Police agreed to allow access to the soft copy of the charge sheet to all the accused and said they have no problem if it was uploaded to the computer inside the jail complexes and the accused have access to it.

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat directed the investigating officer in the case to supply the charge sheet in the form of pen-drive to all the concerned jail superintendents to upload it on the computer which may then be made accessible to all the accused persons for study of the charge sheet.

The court sought a compliance report from the jail superintendents and put up the matter for further hearing on January 19.

During the hearing, the counsel of former JNU student leader Umar Khalid told the court he has moved an application seeking that the accused be permitted to access the soft copy of the charge sheet in jail.

Khalid's counsel further said it was difficult to discuss the legal strategy and the charge sheet, running into more than 17,000 pages, during the legal interview as it was only for half an hour.

He said: “Umar Khalid may be permitted to access soft copy of the charge sheet in jail. On whatever computers that are available or accessible to him, either a computer is brought to jail number 2 or he is taken to the computer centre inside the jail premises, he should be allowed to access the soft copy of the charge sheet.

“We have half an hour interview. We cannot discuss the charge sheet or our legal strategy during that time. It is running into thousands of pages,” he added.

The former JNU student said it was hindering his right to a fair trial.

Another accused Sharjeel Imam also said that the order be extended for all the accused as everyone was in the same boat.

“I have been trying to get access to the charge sheet. Same order be passed for all the accused in the case as we are all in the same boat. I have spent two months in prison speculating news reports.” Advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, appearing for accused Asif Iqbal Tanha, said that she had moved an application before the Tihar jail authorities on November 18 seeking access to a computer for Tanha but has not got any response till date.

The counsel sought that a report be called from the jail authorities regarding it.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, appearing for the police, said as far Khalid''s application was concerned, similar order be passed for all jails.

“So far as Khalid's application is concerned, similar order be passed for all the jails. I completely agree to that. I agree to it that the charge sheet be uploaded to a computer and all have access to it,” Prasad said.

The judge concluded, “The accused needs to read what is in the charge sheet”, and put the matter for further hearing on January 19.

Meanwhile, advocate Arjun Dewan, appearing for another accused Athar Khan, claimed that he was suffering from serious medical condition and was not provided proper treatment in jail.

Khan's counsel further alleged that his inmates passed communally coloured remarks against him and were causing trouble for him.

The accused also directly addressed the court and claimed that he was not being given the high-fibre diet in jail which the doctor had prescribed for him.

He further said he was quarantined for 14 days everytime he was taken out for treatment and during the entire period he was not even allowed to go out of the cell.

Khan said he was not even allowed to meet his lawyer for the entire 14-day quarantine period.

The court sought a medical report on this and directed the concerned medical officer of the jail to appear before it on the next date hearing.

“In the meantime, the accused Athar may be rpovided the medical assistance in the jail and the concerned jail Superintendent may also talk to the accused Athar regarding his complaint/grievances over the conduct of the co-inmates.

Regarding the quarantine issues, the same is done as per the existing rules and regulations and the pandemic situation and the court cannot change the rules,” it said in its order.

All the accused have been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the case related to pre-mediated conspiracy in the riots.

Communal violence had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 last year after clashes between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured. PTI URD RKS RKS