On Monday (February 28), the Supreme Court rejected the petition of the 2020 Bengaluru riot accused Mohammed Kaleem, seeking to challenge the decision of the Karnataka High Court that upheld the dismissal of his bail application by a special court.
The matter came up for hearing before a 2 Judge Bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Dinesh Maheshwari. The accused was represented in the apex court by advocate Siddharth Luthra, who claimed that the name of Mohammed Kaleem did not exist in the original FIR and was added only after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) began its probe.
Advocate Luthra said that Kaleem was 68 years old and had already served 14 months in custody. He added that the charge sheet against the accused was pending. During the hearing, advocate Gaurav Agrawal also appeared for 5 other riot accused namely, Asif, Bilal, Atif, Ikramuddin and Pasha. He informed the court that the probe in the case against them was complete and that the accused had already spent 16 months in custody.
However, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the order of the Karnataka High Court and dismissed the petition.“We can’t have a society like this. This apart, there are charges under UAPA and damage to public property,” the apex court observed.
Karnataka HC had upheld the decision of special court to dismiss bail application of accused
The Karnataka High Court had earlier made it clear that a lack of ‘intent to strike terror’ cannot nullify terrorist acts defined under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, if the act in question is ‘likely to strike terror.’
A Bench led by Justices Pradeep Singh Yerur and Aravind Kumar had noted, “The role of accused persons – appellants has been established through prosecution witnesses, statements of protected witnesses, documentary/electronic evidence and CDRs of mobile numbers used by the accused during the relevant point of time.”
They further added, “Appellants with a common intention were part of unlawful assembly and with a common object to commit a terrorist act, destruction of public and private properties had disobeyed the promulgation of the orders issued under Section 144 Cr.PC.”
The Karnataka High Court observed, “In fact, in furtherance of the common objective to cause harm and destruction to the police station, they have attacked the police personnel who were on duty at the relevant date, time and place of incident. As a part of the conspiracy that was hatched with an intention to strike terror and cause fear in the mind of the public, the appellants have acted accordingly.”
2020 Bengaluru riots: The Background of the Case
On August 11, 2020, a Muslim mob went on a rampage and unleashed mayhem in Bengaluru over a Facebook post, which was allegedly derogatory to Prophet Mohammad. The post was uploaded by one P Naveen, the nephew of a Congress legislator Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy.
The frenzied mob of 200-300 Islamists vandalised the residence of the Congress MLA and set police vehicles on fire. They also attacked police personnel in DJ Halli and KG Halli with stones and deadly weapons. Government properties and the building of KG Halli police station were destroyed in the arson attack.
In September 2020, an independent fact-finding committee had published chilling testimonies of a few Hindu survivors, which proved that Hindus were selectively targeted and their homes and vehicles were damaged in the pre-planned carnage.
During the deadly riots, 80 police officials had sustained injuries. The Bengaluru police had arrested over 300 people in connection to the case and registered a total of 64 criminal cases.