Delhi riots: Court irked over police not maintaining files in FIR registered more than a year ago

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New Delhi, Mar 25 (PTI) A court here was irked on Thursday over non-maintenance of files by Delhi Police in a case relating to the alleged burning and desecration of ''Madina Masjid'' during the north-east Delhi riots in February last year.

Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav said the case diaries have not been maintained as per section 172 (diary of proceedings in investigation) of Criminal Code of Procedure (CrPC).

According to section 172 CrPC, every police officer conducting an investigation should day by day enter his proceedings in the investigation in a diary, with the time at which the information reached him, the time at which he began and closed his probe, the place or places visited by him, and a statement of the circumstances ascertained through it.

The court also noted that the statements of the witnesses were probably recorded after the last date of hearing in the matter which was registered more than a year ago.

It also posed doubt on whether the statements of the witnesses were recorded on the date mentioned by the investigating officer (IO) because while the statements appeared to have been recorded on computer, they bore his physical signature.

'The case diaries have not been maintained in terms of section 172 CrPC. The bound volume, as mandated by CrPC, has not been maintained. The statements of witnesses have probably been recorded after March 17, 2021, i.e. the last date of hearing.

'As the statements appear to have been recorded on computer and are digital documents, but the same bear physical signatures of the IO rather than the digital signatures because of which it is not possible to ascertain as to whether the same were recorded on the date mentioned against the signatures of IO,' it said in its order.

The court directed the police to file a status report on the investigation in the case and put up the matter for further hearing on April 7.

During the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor Nitin Rai Sharma, appearing for the police, said the investigation regarding the original complaint of alleged mosque attack was in progress and appropriate steps be taken against the accused persons.

The court had on March 17 pulled up the police for 'apparent absurdity' in clubbing a man''s complaint about alleged burning down of his house during the north-east Delhi riots last year with another one and later arresting him in the same matter -- making him both a complainant and the accused.

It had also said there was nothing on record about the investigation conducted in the FIR registered in February last year in the case of alleged burning and desecration of ''Madina Masjid'' during the riots in Shiv Vihar area.

It had directed the DCP (north-east) to file a report on the status of investigation in the case by March 25.

The court's observations had come while hearing an appeal by the state against a magistrate court's order on February 1 for registration of an FIR on a complaint by Haji Hashim Ali regarding alleged desecration of the mosque.

Ali had also made a complaint regarding the burning of his house allegedly by the rioters which was clubbed by the police with the complaint of one Naresh Chand.

The police had registered a common FIR and later arrested Ali in the case. Ali is out on bail in the matter.

'It is really strange that the complaint with regard to burning of house of respondent no 1 (Ali) was clubbed with the complaint of one Naresh Chand, being case FIR No 72/2020, PS Karawal Nagar and later on the respondent no 1 was arrested in the same matter, meaning thereby that he is not only complainant in the matter, but also an accused, which is an apparent absurdity,' the court had said.

It had noted that the police did not inform the magistrate court that an FIR had already been registered in the mosque case on February 26, 2020.

It said: 'A perusal of the impugned order dated February 1, 2021, passed by Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) clarifies that the issue involved in the matter is with regard to burning and desecration of ''Madina Masjid'', Shiv Vihar, Delhi on February 25, 2020. As per the version of police, already an FIR No 55/2020, PS Karawal Nagar has been registered in this regard on February 26, 2020, but no such averment was made by the police before the MM.' During the hearing, advocate M R Shamshad, appearing for Ali, had submitted that according to the police the FIR in the mosque attack case was registered in February last year but they had filed various status reports in the last six months before the magistrate court without disclosing it.

Shamshad had alleged that various wrong status reports were submitted before the magistrate court and the police disclosed the fact about the FIR exactly a year later.

'If it is the case of the police that FIR was registered one year before, they would have filed the detailed status of investigation/trial,' he had said.

Shamshad had further alleged that FIR 55/2020 was set up at this stage without naming any accused.

'This entire process appears to be unreasonable, shady and mala fide to somehow give a predetermined closure to the brutal attack on the religious place of the Muslims in the area,' he had alleged.

Communal violence had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 last year after clashes between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act supporters and its protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured. PTI URD SA