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“Accused Cannot Claim Discharge Merely On Ground Of Delay In Recording Of Statements”: Delhi Court Frames Charges Against 9 In Riots Case

[15 October 2021]
A Delhi Court has framed charges against 9 men in relation to a North East Delhi riots case after observing that they cannot claim discharge merely on the ground that there was a delay in recording of statements of witnesses. Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat also observed that it would be a miscarriage of justice to throw of Prosecution case merely because the statements of witnesses were recorded after one month of delay. The Court framed charges against Mohd. Shahnawaz, Mohd. Shoaib, Shahrukh, Rashid, Azad, Ashraf Ali, Parvez, Md. Faizal and Rashid. Charges were framed under Sec. 147 (Punishment for rioting), 148 (Rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 380 (Theft in dwelling house, etc), 427, (Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 436 (Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) and 452 (House-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) of IPC. The case against the accused persons was that they were part of an unlawful assembly which had allegedly caused damaged and looted properties worth crores of rupees and also burnt large number of shops, houses etc belonging to general public. While it was argued by the accused that there was a delay in recording of Statements of a period of one month, the Court said: “It is true that the statements of above named public witnesses to the incident have been recorded after a delay of more than one month. However, it is be noted here that this case is an off shoot of communal riots which had irrupted in North-East Delhi on 24.02.2020 and continued till 26.02.2020 when the situation was brought under control by the police and para-military force.” “There was an atmosphere of terror and trauma which prevailed in the area for several days even after these riots. As submitted by the Ld. Sr. Public Prosecutor, the public witnesses like the ones in the instant case, had become so terrified that they were reluctant to come forth and present their version of the incident before the investigating agency.”

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