The Delhi High Court on Monday adjourned the bail plea petition of the 2020 Delhi Riots accused Umar Khalid. The court will resume hearing on the matter on Tuesday, the 24th of May. Khalid’s bail plea challenging the trial court’s order was heard by a division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul J. and Rajnish Bhatnagar J.
Advocate Trideep Pais argued before the court that Khalid’s speech does not account for terror. The bench then read the transcript of the speech given by Khalid and pointed out what the words “inquilab” and “krantikari” meant in the context of riot-stricken Delhi. “He used the word ‘inquilab‘ in the context of the protests. By no means were the words inquilab, or krantikari used in the context of violence or terror. It was merely a protest against an unjust law,” argued counsel Pais before the court.
..+.. the overthrow or renunciation of one govt or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed”— LawBeat (@LawBeatInd) May 20, 2022
Mridul J.- “What did Bhagat Singh mean when he used the words ‘inqalab zindabad’?
Pais – A radical change or revolution.
Justice Mridul J. had raised questions about Umar Khalid’s slogan of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ during the protest, asking what was the need for a ‘revolution’ since the country is Independent.
When the hearing resumed today, Pais referred to a charge sheet against Umar Khalid ascertaining him as a mentor of Sharjeel Imam. The charge sheet said that a WhatsApp group was formed on the instructions of Umar Khalid to disseminate his agenda. Advocate Pais argued before the court whether a mere statement is enough to bring home the charge of UAPA upon Umar Khalid. He argued that the charge does not hold much water when Khalid was not present at the time of chakka jam agitations all over Delhi.
It must be noted that Umar Khalid is accused of inciting violence which led to riots following the anti-CAA/NRC protests in Delhi. The charge sheet against Khalid mentions the use of weapons, and the manner of attacks during the violence pointing to the terror act. The document states that the intent of the protest was to disrupt the “unity and integrity of India.”
Advocate Trideep Pais argued that terrorist activity does not merely arise by causing disturbance of law and order or of public order. He argued, “A ‘terrorist’ activity does not merely arise by causing disturbance of law and order or of public order. The fallout of the intended activity must be such that it travels beyond the capacity of the ordinary law enforcement agencies to tackle it under the ordinary penal law. Every ‘terrorist’ may be a criminal but every criminal cannot be given the label of a ‘terrorist’ only to set in motion the more stringent provisions of UAPA.”
He stated that the raison d être of the protest itself was a cry to belong to the country and was not in any way undermining the sovereignty of India.
Mridul J. – Is it the case of the prosecution that the protests were to instil a sense of fear and insecurity in the people?— LawBeat (@LawBeatInd) May 23, 2022
Pais – No milords. and who were the victims of the protests? The families of the protestors itself!
However, Justice Mridul J asked, “Is it the case of the prosecution that the protests were to instil a sense of fear and insecurity in the people?” To this, Pais argued that the victims were families of the protestors themselves. Justice Mridul pointed out that a sense of fear and insecurity was created in the aftermath of the protests. “Doesn’t matter if the fear was among the protestors or the people in that area! All protestors have not been charged with UAPA!” he argued in reference to the charge sheet.
Referring to the para 6 of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) judgement, the Justice said that the result of a terrorist attack is not merely the physical or mental damage caused to the victim alone but the prolonged psychological effect it produces on the society as a whole… and a sense of fear and insecurity is created in the minds of a section of society at large.” In reference to the gruesome Delhi riots of 2020, Justice Mridul J pointed out that the accused has been charged with creating insecurity and fear in the public.
Mridul J. – So there was a general sense of fear which in Urdu would be expressed as “Khauf”. But you are saying you had nothing to do with it?— LawBeat (@LawBeatInd) May 23, 2022
Pais – yes milords. And not every disturbance of law and order can be brought within the fold of “terror”.
With the above assertion from the previous Judgement, the bench debated on whether the violence incited by Umar Khalid and subsequently by Sharjeel Imam be referred to as a terrorist attack. Advocate Pais further reading out extracts from Sharjeel Imam’s statement said that only being part of a Whatsapp group (created by Imam) does not make him culpable of the violent actions.
He argued that there was also no connection between Khalid and Sharjeel Imam and that the charge sheet is falsely trying to draw a connection between them. The hearing will continue to be heard throughout the week.