Delhi riots:HC to hear next week plea against order to supply hard copy of c' sheet to accused

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday said it will hear next week, a plea by Delhi Police challenging a trial court’s order directing it to provide to the accused hard copies of the voluminous charge sheet filed in a case related to the north east Delhi riots in February.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait listed the petition for hearing on November 11 as the Additional Solicitor General who had to argue the matter was not available during the day.

The police have sought to set aside trial court’s September 21 and October 21 orders, directing the investigating agency to supply the physical copy of the charge sheet along with documents to the accused persons without appreciating the submissions made on behalf of the State.

“The trial court has erred and passed a mechanical order dated September 21, 2020 directing supply of physical copy of charge sheet ignoring the submissions of the State as also the legal provisions.

“The trial court allowed the application under Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure filed by accused for supply of physical copy of the charge sheet in violation of the law ….of the Information Technology Act, 2000,” the petition, filed through Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, said.

The police, in its plea, said that the police report itself is running into about 2,700 pages and the total number of documents and statements of witnesses are running into about 18,000 pages and there are 23 volumes including the police report which were filed before the trial court.

The plea said the general law mandates that a hard copy is to be made available to the accused, however, the proviso also indicates that an exception is provided by the legislation that if the documents are voluminous in nature then, instead of furnishing a copy thereof, the court can direct that accused be allowed to inspect it either personally or through pleader in court.

But, the police have in fact supplied the e-copy/ soft copy of the charge sheet in pen drive to the accused persons and there is no travesty of justice if hard copy is not made available to them, it said.

The trial court had recently refused to grant time to the police to obtain funds' sanction to provide to the accused hard copies of the voluminous charge sheet filed in a case, saying they were supposed to act promptly.

It had on October 9 directed the police to file fresh copies of the charge sheet after it was informed that they had 'inadvertently' put a document containing the details of some protected witnesses in the copies supplied to the accused booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the case.

The Special Cell of the Delhi Police had charge sheeted 15 accused under the provisions of stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the violence that erupted in the northeast parts of the national capital in February this year.

The accused include Pinjra Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, Gulfisha Khatoon, former Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Shafa-Ur-Rehman, suspended AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain, activist Khalid Saifi, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Salim Malik, Mohd Salim Khan and Athar Khan.

They have been charge sheeted for allegedly being part of a larger conspiracy in the riots.

JNU student Sharjeel Imam and former JNU student leader Umar Khalid have also been arrested under the anti-terror law in the case but not charge sheeted yet.

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