Delhi violence: HC grants bail to murder accused, questions witness statement and video evidence

The court asked why there was only brief footage showing the victim being injured and nothing before or after that.

The Delhi High Court has granted bail to a man accused in a murder case related to the violence that broke out in the national Capital last February, reported The Indian Express on Friday. The High Court also questioned the video evidence and witness statement in the case.

The accused person, Mohammad Bilal, was arrested for the death of a man identified as Mudassir, who had sustained a bullet injury on February 25 last year during an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest in Kabir Nagar. He was in jail since June 22, 2020.

At least 53 people had died and hundreds were injured in clashes that had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26, 2020, in North East Delhi. The majority of the victims were Muslim.

In the order, Justice Mukta Gupta noted that Bilal’s arrest was based on three pieces of evidence – he was seen damaging a CCTV camera near the spot of the incident, a witness statement, and another by a police constable who had identified the accused through CCTV footage.

The High Court said it could not understand why there was only a 35-second video showing Mudassir being injured and nothing before or after, even though videography was going on at the spot.

“For the reason, the same would have captured all the people around the place of occurrence,” the order said. “Be that as it may, as noted above, the videography conducted by police to keep a watch on the people protesting does not show the presence of the petitioner [Bilal].”

The police submitted that a witness, who was in his house, had seen Bilal and Mudassir standing behind the wall. The police also told the High Court that the witness has claimed that Bilal changed the focus of the CCTV camera and was carrying a gun with which Mudassir was shot.

The judge, however, noted that the house of witness could not be seen from the video footage.

“It is claimed that the house was in a side lane and thus the possibility of him [the witness] being able to see the exact incident in a mob of hundreds of people from his residence is too remote,” the order said.

The High Court then granted Bilal bail, taking note of the “nature of evidence” and considering that he has been in custody for over a year.

In recent months, several Delhi courts have raised questions about the police investigation in cases related to the February 2020 violence.

On Tuesday, a court of Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav had said that one of the police witnesses in a Delhi violence case was lying on oath. In September, Yadav had commented that the riots will be “remembered for police failure”. He was transferred in October.

Last month, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg had asked the Delhi Police commissioner to conduct an inquiry and deduct Rs 5,000 from the salary of an officer who had failed to appear before him and had instead sought an adjournment in a riots case.

On September 17, Garg had also pulled up police for their “lackadaisical approach” in handling cases related to the communal violence.

In at least three cases, courts have pointed to irregularities in the manner in which first information reports were filed in connection with the violence last year.

Source: Scroll

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