Delhi Court today discharged the case against Sharjeel Imam and Asif Iqbal Tanha where they were accused of perpetrating violence at Jamia Milia Islamia University in December 2019 during the anti-CAA protests.
It appeared that the police were unable to apprehend those who actually participated in violent protests and Imam, Tanha were roped in this case as "scapegoats", the court said.
Except one, Delhi court dropped the case against all others including Imam and Tanha. The court directed charges to be framed against Mohd Ilyas.
While Asif Iqbal Tanha is out on bail, Sharjeel Imam - who got bail in this matter, is still in judicial custody in connection with the case where he has allegedly conspired to orchestrate the 2020 Delhi Riots.
Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha made scapegoats: Delhi Court
Delhi Court said evidence suggested that Imam and Tanha did not participate in the mayhem that broke out at Jamia Milia Islamia University in December 2019.
In a strongly worded order, Additional Sessions Judge Arul Varma said marshaling the facts as brought forth...this court cannot but arrive at the conclusion that police were unable to comprehend the actual perpetrators behind the commission of the offense but surely managed to rope in Imam, Tanha and others as scapegoats".
The prosecution has ex facie been "perfunctory" and "cavalier fashion" against the above-mentioned persons except Mohd Ilyas, the court said.
"To allow the accused the rigmarole of a long drawn trial, does not augur well for the criminal justice system of our country. Furthermore, such police action is detrimental to the liberty of persons who choose to exercise their fundamental right to peacefully assemble and protest," the 32-page order read.
The liberty of protesting citizens should not have been lightly interfered with, the judge added. The court said it was pertinent to underscore that dissent was nothing but an extension of one's invaluable right to free speech, with certain restrictions, while discharging the accused in this case.
The court said it was this "duty bound to lean towards an interpretation that protected the right of an accused, given the ubiquitous power disparity between them and the state machinery."
In the present case, the court said probe agencies should have used technology to gather credible intelligence and only then embarked on galvanising the judicial system against the accused, the court concluded.
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