On Wednesday, a Delhi Court acquitted two defendants named Yogendra Singh and Suraj in connection with the northeast Delhi riots in 2020. The court was hearing a case involving a First Information Report (FIR) filed by a person named Shamshad at the Jyoti Nagar Police Station in Delhi on February 29, 2020. The FIR stated that on February 25, 2020, thousands of rioters robbed, trashed, and torched property in the Ashok Nagar neighbourhood.
According to the reports, Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Amitabh Rawat of the Karkardooma Court in Delhi observed that the prosecution has not been able to prove its case against both accused people beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Hence, both the accused persons namely Yogendra Singh and Suraj, are acquitted of all the offenses punishable under Section 147 (rioting), 427 (causing property damage), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house), and 149 (unlawful assembly) of IPC”, the Court ordered.
The accused Yogendra and Suraj were charged under Indian Penal Code Sections 147, 148, 149, 427, and 436. (IPC). According to the prosecution, among the rioters were accused Yogender Singh and Suraj, who burnt down the complainant’s residence. The prosecution relied on the testimony of purported eyewitness policeman Pramod and public witness Shamshad, who recognized two of the defendants and led to their arrest.
The Court on Wednesday also noted Shamshad’s statement in which he said, “on February 25, 2020, hundreds of rioters came to Ashok Nagar Masjid and they started arsoning the shops including mine. When I saw the rioters, he ran away. I could not identify anyone and I ran away to save my life”.
The court responded by stating that the witness, Shamshad, had unequivocally deposed that rioters began arsoning houses/shops, including his, on February 25, 2020, and that upon witnessing them, he rushed away and was unable to identify any rioters. However, in his statement recorded under Section 161 CrPC, he indicated that he had recognized both of the defendants.
The court further observed that the testimonies of Shamshad and Pramod did not inspire it to find the accused people, Yogendra Singh and Suraj, guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
“On the cumulative reading of the entire testimonies of all the witnesses, the presence of accused persons in the unlawful assembly on the time and place of incident and their participation in the act of rioting, mischief, and burning of the house of complainant Shamshad is not established at all”, the Court quoted.
Furthermore, the Court noted that SI Yashvir Singh’s testimony concerning Section 188 (violation of an order issued by a public servant) of IPC is insufficient because the appearance of the accused persons is not established and no charges were framed, and even the testimony has not come from the concerned authority who allegedly gave the written permission under Section 195 Cr.P.C.