Delhi violence: HC sets aside bail to school owner, says needs to be punished severely

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New Delhi, Nov 2 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Monday set aside the trial court order granting bail to a private school owner in a communal violence case during anti-CAA protests in north-east Delhi in February, saying the entire country is aggrieved by the action of offenders who tarnish the secular fabric and need to be punished severely.

The high court said the personal liberty of an individual, though precious, is of little value if the larger interest of the people and the nation is at stake.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait allowed the plea of Delhi Police challenging the trial court’s June 20 order granting bail to Faisal Farooq and said the decision was passed at a pre-mature stage while ignoring the relevant material on record.

“The ASJ (additional sessions judge) has failed to appreciate that while deciding an application for bail, the interest of the society is also to be safeguarded. The entire country is aggrieved by the action of such offenders who tarnish the basic secular fabric of the nation and need to be punished severely.

'Personal liberty of an individual, though precious, is of little value if the larger interest of the people and nation are at stake,” the high court said in its 21-page verdict.

The accused was not released from jail as there was a stay on the bail order.

The high court noted that it had stayed the trial court order on June 22; thereafter, it had vacated the stay on July 2.

Aggrieved by the order, the police approached the Supreme Court which on August 4 stayed the high court’s July 2 decision, due to which Farooq has not been released in the present case.

Therefore, no further direction to surrender is required to be passed, the high court said.

Farooq, owner of the Rajdhani Public School (RPS) in Shiv Vihar locality was among the 18 arrested for alleged involvement in burning and damaging property of the adjacent DRP Convent School.

The police, represented through Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, Special public prosecutors Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair, had challenged the trial court bail order saying the decision was ex-facie unwarranted.

Delhi Police had on June 3 filed a charge sheet before the court against Farooq and 17 others in the incident in which the building of a private school was burnt down in north-east Delhi.

The high court said Farooq is wealthy with reputation and roots in the society and since the investigation in the present FIR is pending and the prosecution is likely to file supplementary charge sheet, he may influence the witnesses and hamper the investigation and trial.

The high court order said there is evidence that the rioters entered the school on the afternoon of February 24 and continued pelting stones, petrol bombs through catapult already installed at the RPS rooftop where huge quantities of bricks and stones were already there on the rooftop.

Even rioters managed to climb down from RPS to DRP Public School by using a rope which was already there on the rooftop and the rioters continued unabated till February 25, it noted.

The high court noted that the DVRs installed at the premises of RPS were made non-functional around 6 pm in the evening on February 24 and it was established by the witnesses as well as CCTV footage in which Farooq was clearly seen around 1.24 pm in the school premises.

“Moreover, it seems the riots were carried out in such an organised manner that a large size iron catapult was manufactured and installed at rooftop of the school of respondent for pelting stones and petrol bombs downwards, this sort of instrument can never be made in a spur of moment.

“As per CDR (call detail record) analysis of respondent/accused, he was in continuous contact with various members of other groups involved in other offences,” the high court said.

Regarding apprehension of fleeing from India, the high court said there is no evidence on record and the accused is not a flight risk.

The case of Farooq was that he was an educationist and involved in imparting education to the various sections of the population.

He said that to stall his release from the jail, the police authorities have falsely implicated him in another case and arrested him on June 22, the day when he was released on bail and these actions of the police authorities are illegal and mala fide.

The trial court, in its bail order, had noted that the charge sheet filed against him in the case was bereft of material showing his alleged links with the Popular Front of India, Pinjra Tod group and Muslim clerics.

It had directed Farooq to surrender his passport and not leave the National Capital Region without the permission of the court. He should mark his attendance on every alternate Wednesday at the police station concerned. It also asked him not to tamper with evidence or influence the witnesses.

The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police had filed the charge sheet against the accused for allegedly conspiring with the Popular Front of India, Pinjra Tod group, Jamia Coordination Committee and Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz for creating riots, in and around his school.

It has also been alleged that protestors against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) had received funds from the PFI, formed in 2006 in Kerala as a successor to the National Democratic Front (NDF). PTI SKV HMP SA