Case BriefsDistrict Court

Patiala House Court, New Delhi:  While deciding the instant bail application of student activist Safoora Zargar, who was accused of giving inflammatory speeches, thereby inciting riots and violence in North East Delhi and was arrested and taken into custody under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 [hereinafter UAPA], Dharmendar Rana, ASJ, refused to grant her the bail. Furthermore, pointing out that although no direct violence is attributable to the applicant/ accused, still she cannot shy away from her liabilities.

The Court said that, “When you choose to play with embers, you cannot blame the wind to have carried the spark bit too far and spread the fire”. However, taking note of the accused/ applicant’s pregnancy, he requested the Jail Superintendent to provide adequate medical aid and assistance to her.

The applicant/accused is a student of Jamia Milia University. It was alleged by the prosecution that she delivered an inflammatory speech at Chand Bagh area of North East Delhi. Aftermath of which, riots erupted leading to a great loss of life and property. As per the submissions of the Additional Public Prosecutor, Irfan Ahmed, there is enough evidence available on record to connect the applicant/ accused to the riots. It was further submitted that Section 43D (5) of the UAPA places a statutory restriction on the power of the Courts to release the applicant/ accused on bail. The prosecution further pointed out that certain incriminating materials were seized by the police and if this recovery is viewed against the backdrop of the inflammatory speeches given by the applicant/ accused and statements of the witnesses, then it is clear that the riots were a result of a conspiracy to overawe the government and disrupt the normal functioning of the capital city. Thus under these circumstances, the applicant- accused should not be granted bail.

Meanwhile, counsel for the applicant/accused, Sanya Kumar, contended that the applicant/accused is an innocent woman who has a contrary opinion on the Citizenship Amendment Act (hereinafter CAA) and had simply exercised her fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution by being involved in a peaceful protest against the CAA. She further pointed out to the court that the applicant/accused delivered her speech on 23-02-2020 and riots started in the afternoon of 24-02-2020. The evidences clearly suggest that the applicant was not present on 24-02-2020, therefore the alleged violence cannot be attributed to her and the provisions of the UAPA have been wrongly invoked against her. The counsel also contended that the applicant/ accused should be granted bail on humanitarian grounds as she is 21 weeks pregnant and suffers from various other medical complications and given the spread of Covid-19, the applicant/ accused is particularly vulnerable.

Perusing the contentions of both the parties, the Additional Sessions Judge observed that freedom of speech and expression is indeed a foundation for strong and vibrant democracy, however the same is not an absolute right and is subject to the reasonable restrictions laid down in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. Considering the provisions of the UAPA, the Court observed that any activity which creates a disorder and disturbance of law to such an extent that an entire city is “brought down to its knees”, constitutes an ‘unlawful activity’ under Section 2(o) of the UAPA. Concurring with the contentions of the prosecution, the Court noted that it cannot ignore the material available on record which clearly suggests that there was a conspiracy to create an unprecedented scale of destruction and breakdown of law and order. Finding no merits, the Court thus dismissed the bail application. [State v. Safoora Zargar, Bail Application No. 1119/2020 , decided on 04-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar and Anup Jairam Bhambhani, JJ., in pursuance to the mid-night hearing, was informed by Advocate Suroor Mandel that the injured riot victims were able to be taken to Government Hospitals and the Order given by the Bench earlier had a positive effect.

Further, Court heard the issues that required immediate attention by Rahul Mehra, Standing Counsel for Delhi Police and Sanjay Ghose, Standing Counsel for GNCTD.

Following issues required attention of the Court:

  • Safe passage for bodies of victims who have died in riots with proper information being provided to friends and bodies to be taken with utmost dignity – Court has asked the police to work out the modalities in consultation with relatives.
  • Setting up of help lines and help desks – Special Commissioner of Police, Mr Praveer Ranjan assures the Court that it will immediately look into this aspect and ensure that adequate number of help lines and help desks are set up.
  • Fire services and Ambulances reaching the spot in time. – The same shall be taken care by the police in coordination with the Director of Fire Services and Secretary (Health), GNCTD.
  • Victims have left their homes due to riots and many had to leave their dwellings and are afraid to return till the situation is under control — They should be given some kind of assurance that they would be safe in their homes. GNCTD will on war footing ensure that adequate numbers of shelter are set up to provide rehabilitation to displaced victims.

Another concern expressed is that of post-mortem reports and medico-legal certificates copies to be provided to the victims, for which Mr Mehra states that all efforts will be made to ensure that it is done strictly in accordance with law and relevant document is provided to kin of the dead or injured.

Court proposes to appoint Advocate Zubeda Begum as Amicus Curiae to act as Nodal Officer of Court to co-ordinate between victims and various agencies.

To address the urgent needs of the time designated ‘Night Magistrates’ should be available.

In addition to the above, Court also directed Secretaries of District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) to ensure that their help lines work 24*7 for the next 2 weeks.

To deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and any other needs, Director, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences will also be provided sufficient number of qualified professionals in order to cater to the needs of riot victims.

The matter has been listed for 28-02-2020 [Rahul Roy v. Govt. (NCT of Delhi), WP (Crl.) No. 566 of 2020, decided on 26-02-2020]

As reported by ANI, 

Delhi High Court during the hearing regarding the violence caused in North-East Delhi, stated that the Chief Minister and Deputy CM should also visit the affected areas for confidence-building among people. This is the time to reach out.

Standing Counsel stated that due to the violence there is an official confirmation on 17 deaths due to violence in North East Delhi.

Justice S Muralidhar ordered the court master to play video clip in which BJP leader Kapil Sharma allegedly made an inflammatory speech.

Further, the bench stated that all injured police personnel should be treated with utmost urgency.

Court also asks the highest functionaries in state and central government to personally meet the victims and their families.

Direction to set up helplines for immediate help for victims, private ambulances to be provided for safe passage of victims has been given along with the set up of shelters for rehabilitation along with basic facilities.

Bench with regard to the CBSE Board Examination Centre has asked the board to take a decision on the same by 5 P.M. Today.

Advocate Zubeda Begum has been appointed to act as amicus curiae between the victims and agencies. [PTI]

Court also inquires about the name of the officer who was seen in BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s video clip.

On the plea of deployment of Army in the violence-affected areas, court says ‘We don’t want to enter into the question of deployment of Army. We should focus on the issue of registration of FIR right now.’

Police asked to take a conscious decision on lodging of FIRs and convey it to the court. [PTI]

The court adjourns the matter for tomorrow and states that the authorities must go strictly by the mandate of the law.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court:  The bench of SA Bobde and SA Nazeer, JJ has asked the CBI to apprise it of the status of the ongoing trial in a case involving former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and listed his bail plea for hearing on April 15.

The CBI told the Bench that Sajjan Kumar, who was a sitting MP in 1984, was the “kingpin” of the massacre of Sikhs in the national capital in 1984.

“This is a gruesome offence of massacre of Sikhs. He was the leader and he was the kingpin of this,”

It was also argued that it would be a “travesty of justice” if Sajjan Kumar is enlarged on bail as he is facing trial in another 1984 anti-Sikh riots case at Patiala House district court here.

The bench said that it would hear on April 15 bail plea of Sajjan Kumar, who was convicted and sentenced to life term by the Delhi High Court in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. The case in which Sajjan Kumar was convicted and sentenced relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part-I area of southwest Delhi on November 1 and 2, 1984, and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar Part-II.

Anti-Sikh riots had broken out after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards.

(Source: PTI)

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Supreme Court directed the re-investigation of the 186 cases that were filed after the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that killed thousands of people. Special Investigation Team that was probing the cases had earlier closed the investigation.

The Court, re-directing the investigation, said that a 3-member committee headed by a retire High Court judge will conduct a fresh probe in the matter.

The 1984 anti-Sikh riots broke out as a response to the assassination of former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi.

Source: ANI

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ granted six weeks time to the Gujarat government for apprising it on whether any disciplinary action has been initiated against policemen convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape case after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the state government, requested the Court that some more time be given to get instruction on the authorities concerned in the case.

Listing the matter in the first week of January, 2018, the bench made it clear that the separate plea, seeking enhancement of compensation to be awarded to Bilkis Bano, will be taken up next week for hearing.

Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped in March, 2002, while she was pregnant, lost seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning incident. Bombay High Court had, on May 4 2017, upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the gangrape case, while setting aside the acquittal of seven people including policemen and doctors.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and PC Pant, J set aside the Gujarat High Court order directing the Gujarat Government to give compensation in favour of the persons in charge of all the religious places including those of worship, which were damaged during the communal riot of the year 2002 for restoration to the original position, as those existed on the date of destruction.

The Court, however, accepted the scheme framed by the State Government where the Government has fixed the maximum amount under the caption of ex gratia assistance and also conferred the power on the District Collector of the Districts where religious places are situated to determine about the ownership or administration rights of religious places concerned. Noticing that the terms and conditions of the said scheme were reasonable, the Court directed that the claimants who fulfil the conditions of the scheme shall approach the authorities therein within eight weeks and the said authorities shall determine the same within three months from the receipt of the claims. Further, if any party is aggrieved by the denial of the benefit, he can take appropriate steps in accordance with law.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State, had argued that the State fund which consist payment of various taxes by citizens cannot be directed by the High Court to be spent for restoration/construction of any religious places by issuing a writ under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, inasmuch as under the scheme of Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 under the heading “Right to Freedom of Religion”, the Constitution protects certain rights while prohibiting certain actions.

The Court, relied upon the rulings in Prafull Goradia v. Union of India, (2011) 2 SCC 568, where the two-Judge Bench has opined:

“the object of Article 27 is to maintain secularism and the said Article would be violated if the substantial part of the entire income tax collected in India, or a substantial part of the entire central excise or the customs duties or sales tax, or a substantial part of any other tax collected in India, were to be utilized for promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination. However, if only a relatively small part of any tax collected is utilised for providing some conveniences or facilities or concessions to any religious denomination, that would not be violative of Article 27 of the Constitution.”

The Court also took note of the ruling in Archbishop Raphael Cheenath S.V.D. v. State of Orissa, (2009) 17 SCC 90, where the Court had emphasized on the creation of atmosphere where there shall be complete harmony between the groups of people and the duty of the State to have discussions with the various groups to bring about peace and give possible help to the victims and had directed the Government to formulate a scheme regarding the religious places.

The Court noticed that while fixing the maximum limit on ex gratia assistance in it’s scheme, the Government has equated the same with houses which have been given the assistance. It was hence, held that when the individual’s grievances pertaining to property has been conferred the similar assistance, the assistance rendered for repairing/restoration of public places of worship will come within the guidelines of the aforementioned cases. [State of Gujarat v. IRCG, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1011, decided on 29.08.2017]