Delhi violence: HC seeks police reply on Israt Jahan’s plea against extension of time to complete probe in UAPA case

New Delhi, Jun 24 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked Delhi Police to respond to a plea by former Congress municipal councillor Ishrat Jahan, booked under anti-terror law UAPA in a case related to communal violence in northeast Delhi in February, challenging an order extending time for completing the investigation by 60 more days.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, issued notice to Delhi Police and asked it to file written arguments within 10 days.

The court also allowed Jahan’s counsel to file written arguments and some additional documents related to the case.

Additional Public Prosecutor Amit Chadha accepted the notice on behalf of Delhi Police and sought time to file the reply after which the court listed the matter for further hearing on July 7.

Jahan, who was arrested on February 26, has challenged the trial court’s June 15 order granting 60-day extension to police to complete its investigation against her and activist Khalid Saifi.

The court was informed that Saifi had allegedly travelled outside India and met persons including fugitive Zakir Naik, controversial Islamic preacher, to get funds for spreading his agenda and the investigation regarding this required more time.

Advocate Manu Sharma, who appeared for Jahan, sought setting aside of the trial court’s order, saying it was “erroneous, bad in law and wrong on facts” and it was against the democratic and fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

“The application by the prosecutor is an abuse of the legal process as the same fails to make out any legal or factual basis that justifies extension of time. This exercise is only to subvert and defeat the right of the petitioner to seek regular and statutory bail under the CrPC.

“The order deserves to be set aside on this ground alone. Speedy and fair investigation are fundamental tenets of the criminal justice system…,” the plea, filed through advocate Lalit Valecha, said.

It contended that the prosecutor has not mentioned any specific reason as to why the custody of accused Jahan was required, which is a mandatory condition under the provisions of the UAPA, still the sessions court granted extension of time to file charge sheet.

Jahan’s counsel claimed that she has been fully cooperating with the investigating agency and already revealed the questioned source of funds to the IO.

The trial court, in its June 15 order, had said the prosecution has set out a case for extension of the statutory time period to conclude the investigation but the investigating officer was not divested of his obligation of concluding the probe expeditiously.

The trial court, which granted time till August 14 to conclude the pending investigation, had noted the police contention that Saifi got suspicious funds through a NRI account of a person, who is serving in Singapore, in the account of an NGO which he is running in partnership with his friend.

The prosecutor had alleged that Jahan has got illegal funds through an unaccounted channel and Khalid got funds from Popular Front of India (PFI) as well as from outside India.

Saifi was a member of United Against Hate, a citizens' campaign launched in 2017 to protest against series of lynching in the country and was allegedly involved in the violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in which financial support was provided by the the PFI, formed in 2006 in Kerala as a successor to the National Democratic Front (NDF).

The police had sought extension of time till September 17 for concluding investigation against Jahan and Khalid, under section 43D (2) (b) of the anti-terror law.

Section 43-D (2) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) provides that if it is not possible to complete the investigation within the 90 days period, then upon the report of the public prosecutor indicating the progress of the probe and the specific reasons for the detention of the accused beyond the 90 days period, after satisfaction, the court can extend the period of probe to 180 days.

Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Jamia students Asif Iqbal Tanha, Gulfisha Khatoon, Jamia Alumni Association President Shifa-Ur-Rehman, JNU students and Pinjra Tod members Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, suspended AAP councilor Tahir Hussain, Shadab Ahmed, and Umar Khalid have also been booked under UAPA in the case.

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