Delhi riots: Court seeks police reply on 'leak' of charge sheet against Khalid to media

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (PTI) A court here on Thursday sought reply from the police as to how the copy of a supplementary charge sheet, filed against former JNU student leader Umar Khalid in a north-east Delhi riots case, was allegedly leaked to the media even before the accused or his counsel got it.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dinesh Kumar directed Delhi Police to file the reply by January 14 on how the charge sheet was allegedly leaked to the media before the court took cognisance of it.

Khalid's plea said that the allegations in the supplementary charge sheet and its dissemination by the media were allegedly “false” and “malicious” and compromised his right to a fair trial.

He had earlier alleged that the media was conducting a “vicious media campaign” against him and sought the court's directions to the police on how the media got the charge sheet even before he or his counsel got it.

During Thursday's hearing, Khalid said: “As I had mentioned earlier, even before the charge sheet was supplied to me, it was already in the public domain and media was reporting from it. I got to know from news reports that the charge sheet made mention of a disclosure statement by me and based on that so-called disclosure statement, media had reported that I had admitted my role.

'When I got the charge sheet, it is written below my so-called disclosure statement 'refused to sign'. Despite that it is leaked and then it is reported like this. “This is not the first time. It has happened before too. A thing first comes in the public domain in an unprofessional way and then it comes to the courtroom. When I read these reports in jail, it causes me deep anguish. I don't expect this to be the last time also on the part of the police. This has been done in other cases too. My only hope rests with you to ensure that these kinds of practices don't happen again, ' Khalid claimed.

He further said that the charge sheets mentioned certain videos which have not been supplied to him.

To this, the judge asked his counsel to make a list of all the deficient documents and inform the court on the next date of hearing.

The court also asked the investigating officer to inform the court about the details of the videos and why they have not been supplied to the accused.

Though Khalid's application, moved on January 4 had sought immediate supply of the charge sheets to him so that he can issue clarifications or guard himself against any “unfair” publicity, his counsel told the court on Thursday that since they have been supplied with the charge sheets, the immediacy of the plea has passed.

Khalid's application stated, “The charge sheet has not been provided to the accused. However, it is amply evident from several news reports, both print and television, that the charge sheet has been leaked to the media. Certain portions of the print and television media have been citing purported segments of the supplementary charge sheet to convey that the accused has inter alia admitted to having conspired to fuel the north east Delhi riots of February 2020, and to having involved children and women for organising chakka jams.” It further said: “It is respectfully submitted that for reasons outlined in the present application, the purported allegations as well as its dissemination by the media, are false, malicious and severely compromise the accused's right to a fair trial.” It said that none of the news reports include that the contents of the charge sheet are mere allegations at this stage.

It claimed there was no clarification that disclosure statements made in police custody are wholly inadmissible in evidence and have no basis in law.

'It is nothing short of vilification campaign based on wholly false and malicious assertions aimed at eroding the accused's right to a fair trial,” it alleged.

Khalid was arrested in the case in October last year for allegedly conspiring with suspended AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain, co-accused in the matter, to fuel riots in Khajuri Khas area.

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